Thursday, March 4, 2010


I used to paint. Notice it’s a past tense. Yes, I’ve picked up the brush a time or two in the past 8 years, but never actually put my heart into anything I’ve done. The last time I remember doing that, I was 18. What stopped me? Words.

I took a few art classes my freshman year of college, and I wasn’t the best student. I had no formal training, but had painted a lot and been told I had a gift. I look back on that year and the emotional hell my boyfriend put me through, the financial burden my education was causing my parents, and my already heavy depression sent me to new depths. I hadn’t the money for the supplies that others used in art classes. I had to explain to my professors that I couldn’t afford this or that (embarrassing!). When my jackass boyfriend told me that he saw my art and it was “just ok”, I was devastated. I never took another art class.

It was 10 years later, when I was married, that my husband bought me a set of paints, and all of the accessories. Having not painted in 10 years, the brush felt foreign, and I struggled. I began painting a tree, I believe. My husband walked by and said, “You’re going to paint THAT?” And then later, he made a comment, “I can paint like that.” I got up, gave him the brush and walked away. I didn’t pick up the brush again.

It’s been nearly 8 years since my divorce, and I have made a few attempts since, only to get frustrated with myself. I have this mental block that keeps me from moving forward with a paintbrush.

Today, a coworker explained to me that she’s written 2 complete novels, which were “sophomoric” once she re-read them. So she began others, and the last one she poured herself into and had it half finished. She took it to a local editor for input before she went any further. He told her that it sounded like Jean Auel’s writing, and if she can fix that, then she should bring it back and he’ll re-read it. That was in the late 80’s or early 90’s. She has not written a word since. The half finished novel is in a box.

We have these walls we build in our own minds. We both took a gift we were working on, and received the feedback we were not prepared to handle. We shut down. We didn’t believe in ourselves to begin with, apparently.

I had heard a friend of mine painted, but no one has seen her work. She keeps it locked away in her house. She finally showed us some photos of it last night. It was fantastic. She has 25 pieces of amazing art. Why hasn’t she shared them? Fear of rejection. Fear of critical input. She paints them, and then she puts them away. No input means no mental stifling. We are now encouraging her to have confidence in herself as an artist. I hope I never stifle someone the way I was.

I also hope I have the courage to try again…….

1 comment:

FHL_Always said...

I once heard this parable about a boy who walks up to his idol, this well known famous actor and tells him that he wants to be an actor just like him. The actor scoffs and tells this boy that he doesn't have what it takes. The boy, depressed, immediately gave up on his dream of becoming an actor and pursued other things.

Later in life, he saw the actor again and asked him what he did wrong. Why was it that he didn't have what it took to be an actor?

The actor said, the problem is that you walked away that day and you believed me.

I think too many times we put our fate into the hands of others and put too much importance on what they think of things that we are passionate about and hold up so dearly. Like this gentleman in the story, he thought that the actor was an expert and because of his reputation he believed him when it's just as likely that the actor was just having a bad day.

I urge you to start painting again and paint like no one's watching. Like it's just you and the canvas. In life, people will tell you that you can' can't do it. You can either be the person who says "to hell with you" and tries harder...or you can be the person who believes him and abandons your dream.

Which one are you?