The Abstract Painting
Years ago, I went to art school and one of the projects that we did went like this:
The teacher told us to take a sketch book outside.
Choose something that interests us and sketch that.
A simple pencil sketch of up to 5 things that caught our eye.
We had 1 hour.
Outside choosing something to sketch, I remember trying so hard to get it right.
Should I sketch a window, a piece of architecture, a person, a tree?
I had to pick the right thing.
To make a good picture.
A good picture of the right kind of things.
My brow was furrowed, my stomach churning, hands sweaty for most of the hour that we were out there.
I was stressed and anxious to get it right.
I’d decided it was imperative that I didn’t get it wrong.
My desperation to get it right was so restricting.
No exploration of possibilities.
Part 2 coming up…
When you find yourself stressing about trying to get something right, especially if you’re not sure if what you’re doing is the right thing…
Take a breath.
- If I didn’t have to get this right, what could I choose?
- What do you know about what would work here that you’ve blocked out because you’re so focused on trying to get it right?
So we brought our sketches back inside and met up at the photocopy machine.
Our teacher then showed us how to hold the sketch facedown on the photocopy machine and as the machine takes a copy, move the picture so the copy is purposely distorted.
What curiosity and fun!
We got to play with our images until we got something that interested us.
With the first stage of sketching, I had been stressed and anxious to get it right.
Now things were starting to get more fun.
Play was possible.
There was no right way.
I couldn’t get it wrong.
If I wanted a flowy image, I could choose that.
If I wanted a zigzagy image, I could choose that.
It was so freeing.
So joyfully creative.
No judgment. No wrongness. Pure freedom to choose, be and have fun.
Part 3 coming up…
What space of fun could you be in more that you create?
Whether you’re creating a meal, are part of creating a project at work, or even creating a conversation…
If you weren’t judging the minutiae of your every step…
If you weren’t trying so hard to get it right that you were blocking the uniqueness of your contribution…
What else could be possible?
The fun and play of purposefully distorting the sketches with the photocopier to create abstract images that couldn’t be right and couldn’t be wrong soon dissipated when I got back in the art classroom.
As soon as I started trying to get my picture right again, the fun stopped.
I decided that I needed to choose the right images in the right order and not mix in the wrong way.
That I had to pick the right colours and the right proportions.
Not what the teacher said was right, this was purely all my toxic judgment.
Because when creating an abstract painting, the beauty of it is that..
There is no preconceived way that it must be.
Several days into this project, I remember my painting completely overwhelming me and bursting into tears.
My teacher was so kind.
He suggested I took the painting off the easel and laid it flat on a table.
That reduced the intensity of the piece and gave me space to breathe and be objective.
To let go of insisting on getting it right and gave me space to have more playfulness with it.
More of an exploration of shape, form, colour and flow…
Now that painting hangs in my home.
Bright, bold and a beautiful reminder for me to let go of trying to be right, be willing to play, have fun and allow the chaos of creation to be a gift that continues to give.
If you would like to discover more ways to let go of what’s blocking you, click here: