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Fuses and Tripwire


 Brain to self: I like this painting. Now panic.

For me, and I imagine many other people learning to paint, there is an outer struggle and then there is the inner struggle. The outer struggle is how to draw the curve of the nose or how much medium you need to add to paint so that it has intensity but doesn’t obliterate all things underneath.

The inner is a different set of problems. The inner is learning how to still the critic, how to calm the panic, and how to motivate yourself to come back to the same war tomorrow morning after breakfast.

Last year’s tactic was that of distraction. If I began to get frustrated with one set of problems I dodged to the next set. I settled frustration by waving something shiny (A new pattern to try! New paint!) to calm my self anger. And I think this was exactly what I needed for working through all those inner obstacles that can easily take someone down their first year.

But as I wade into this year, my second,  I am trying to focus. And for January this means I’m working through a set of paintings with a repeatable approach. Draw. Pattern. Scrape. Shape. Texture.  And it’s fascinating to watch the inner workings ignite. A sigh of relief after one piece feels good turns into panic that it was a complete fluke. That same set of fears somehow morphs into the fear that everything will look the same (and boring) and then transforms into the what if none of these skills translate to advancing my paintings. I’m setting fuses and laying trip wire for my own damn pathways, and it’s only the 6th of the month. And yet, I imagine that I will be laying them for my entire life. Maybe that inner battle is part of the process, and somehow committing to learning to paint means committing to learning yourself.

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