The Degas Syndrome

The story goes that Degas once visited the home of a collector in Paris, saw a painting he had completed some years prior hanging on the wall, took it down and marched off with it, insisting that there were some things he needed to correct.

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas, Self-portrait (Degas au porte-fusain), 1855

All of us have felt this at some time or other: “But I would make it so much better now.”

My advice?

Leave it.

It is the nature of the creative process and all of Creation, really, to continually evolve.
Your mind, your thoughts, your skills, your interests are all moving perpetually forward. So it can be embarrassing or even painful to look back on what you have created in the past.

It can make you wince.

The urge to remake it or fix it can be strong.

But it would be as absurd as the notion of trying to go back to your high school with all the knowledge, experience and confidence you have gained as an adult to “Do it right this time.”

Why repeat high school?

What would be the point?

Leave the past behind and use all that you gained from experience to play better at the NOW game.

Leave a Comment

Create Spaciousness in Your Work Day (and Spare Your Eyesight at the Same Time!)

Have you ever heard an artist to say, “I love the hours I spend on my computer, applying for shows, writing my artist’s statement, organizing my images and responding to emails. It’s so much FUN!”?

Almost every artist I know would rather be in the studio, hands in the materials, making stuff.

The administrative and business work associated with being an artist is tedious to most creative types and sometimes downright loathsome.

This can result in putting things off until the last minute, and then rushing through them, subtly (or overtly!) resenting the task at hand, and feeling pressed for time.

In this video, I share some methods I’ve developed for keeping the same sense of balance and expansiveness when working on my computer as I experience in my meditation practice.

Our brains can get caught up in the task at hand, so I read these two phrases to myself to connect with my deeper, overarching intentions throughout the day. Just reading them to myself, shifts my consciousness and attitude.

I experience the spaciousness of time as I work on my computer.

I take frequent pauses to check in with my deeper self.

Here is the link for the free download of the meditation timer I mention (for Mac users):

Questions? Comments? Leave them below…

Leave a Comment

Create a Positive Feedback Folder or Notebook

I know how hard this can be. Showing up to work in the studio week after week when it feels like nobody cares about what you are doing. No one even notices.
When you hit a rough patch creatively or when the work isn’t looking or feeling too good, it can be so tempting to wonder why in the heck you even bother.

Maybe you just got another rejection letter and your heart is sinking.

It’s times like these when I pull out my positive feedback folder.

I have a paper one and one in my email files. This is where I archive any positive feedback or words of encouragement on my work.

It might be a brief comment in an email, a thank you note from someone who has received my art, or even something someone said in passing. If you have a blog or facebook page, you can cut and paste into a separate document any comments that give your heart a little lift.

More established artists could save copies of positive notices or reviews, articles or catalogue essays on their work in their positive feedback file. (Yes, even the most established artists suffer from self-doubts.)

I suggest compiling them all in one place and making it part of your studio ritual to read these over on a weekly or monthly basis. This will strengthen your resolve in the studio and help you through those darker times of confusion and self-doubt.

I believe we all want to be of service to others in some way. When you spend much time working alone in your studio, it is easy to forget that your work can have a positive impact on others.

If you are just getting started and you haven’t received any yet, don’t worry, you will. Perhaps someone in a class you took admired your color palette or your knack for composition?

Can you be absolutely sure you haven’t received any compliments?

Perhaps you have been in the habit of dismissing them? (This old thing?! It’s nothing, really. Just something I’m messing around with. It’s not even finished.)

There is a delicate balance here. Obviously, we don’t want to live only for the compliments or accolades, nor base our self-worth or our opinion of our own work on them.

However, they do serve to remind that part of us that wants to make a difference in the world that our endeavors are worthwhile.

Your work is worthwhile.

Now, go make something.

Leave a Comment

Butcher Tray Palette

During my trip up to the Pacific Northwest, the question I got over and over again at almost every single group I spoke to was about proper disposal and clean up of acrylic paint.

Here’s a video I made showing precisely that:

My favorite part is watching the paint pucker up and peel up in a sheet. Watch for my tip at the end for how to dispose of all those palette scrapings in a way that won’t hurt the environment OR your plumbing.

Any thoughts of your own? Questions? Please leave them in the comments section directly below the video so everyone can benefit!

Leave a Comment