“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” –Andy Warhol
Making art. The two words may sound simple, freeing, therapeutic, exciting, and—on the same note—frightening and foreboding. Whether making art is a routine in your daily life, or a favorite pastime, you repeatedly have to face the blank canvas. Each time is a new experience that has the potential to embody mixed emotions.
“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” ~Edgar Degas
As you sit down, ready to create, you face the “new.” You may consider the bare, untouched surface a daunting experience. The act of starting can stifle the creative process whether it be the written word, visual arts, or developing new choreography for a dance.
“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.” ~Neil Gaiman
Often, the act of questioning yourself sets in. “What if I make a mistake?” “I can’t draw/ paint/ sculpt. Other people are better at it than me.”
“There is no such thing as talent. What they call talent is nothing but the capacity for doing continuous work in the right way.” –Winslow Homer
“What if it isn’t any good?” “Will it be better than my last work?” “What will others think of it?” The key is to take all of the energy circulating around the “what ifs” and transfer it into the act of creating.
“When it is working, you completely go into another place, you’re tapping into things that are totally universal, completely beyond your ego and your own self. That’s what it’s all about.” ~Keith Haring
The other culprit is time. It evaporates like boiling water out of pan. We think we have enough of it, but if left unattended, it is altogether lost. If all you have time for is one minute, then make a mark a day. Begin with one mark and let it lead to another. The act of making a stroke breaks through the fears and hesitations of a blank canvas. Allow the process to drive the work.
“A line is a dot that went for a walk.” –Paul Klee
Let go of tension and angst around your new work. Turn on music to help encourage movement. To take it one step further, switch out the word “work” with “experimentation.” You can tell yourself that you’ll be experimenting with a medium and discovering the fantastic possibilities it has in store.
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” ~Georgia O’Keeffe
So as you face your next blank canvas… Take a breath. Be gentle with yourself. Be as fluid and adaptable as the material you are working with. Embrace your mark making. Above all remember progress not perfection.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” ~Pablo Picasso