As I was painting the other day it hit me how much the process of making Art is just a bunch of Yes and No decisions. Do I like this mark here or do I like it there? Yes or No?
I was having one of those days in the studio that was not very satisfying. It seemed like I was improving things but on the other hand I might possibly be making things worse. There is this sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know something needs to be done but you just can’t figure it out.
In frustration, towards the end of the day, I tried to just make it clearer whether I wanted to change something or not. For instance I wouldn’t change that blue patch unless I really didn’t like it. It had to be a definite No! And then once I made a decision I pushed it visually so it was really, really clear. If something was to be made bigger I made it a bit bigger than I was planning. If it was to be a more saturated blue I made it even more so.
Right away the painting started moving. Finally. I realized that I was seeing and liking my decisions better because they were clear. They were committed. It almost gave me more room to imagine the next step, as I knew more definitively where I was in the process. It was quite extraordinary.
As I was thinking about all of this, my phone rang. I almost picked it up and then caught myself. I have a promise that I will not interrupt my painting till I have painted straight for the 2-3 hour session. I tell people this and they understand. In fact they like it. Just saying this is a reminder for myself that my Art is very important and at least for part of my day I totally show up for it.
This clear boundary, this decision to say no to a whole host of potential interruptions, from phone calls, to emails, to even looking for something to snack on, while I am painting has the same kind of potency as the more definitive ones made in art making. It is a big strong No.
The art of saying Yes when you really want to and Saying No when you really need to seems vitally important not just in the process of making Art but also in making a your life the way you want it.
Yes and No are such small words but when used clearly and decisively can make all the difference in the world.
What do you say no to, so you can say yes to your Art?
I would also like to announce the winner of the “Key” painting from last week’s blog post is…Diane McGregor! To claim your painting, please email Ferris as firstname.lastname@example.org with an address we may mail it to.
In gratitude, Nicholas
the founder of Art2Life.
With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.