The last few weeks I've been feeling less enthusiastic and focused in the studio than is my wont. I've had trouble getting motivated to paint, and I've been wasting copious amounts of time on Facebook and taking care of logistics. There's lots of marketing stuff that needs to be done, so that's not a bad thing in and of itself, but it hasn't felt so good to be detached from painting.
Today I met with some friends and one of them asked me what my greatest dream is for myself. She electrified my memory -
My dream is to have my artwork in the world's greatest museums. More importantly, my dream is to help shift the way women perceive their bodies so that love is all they feel when they look at themselves in the mirror. I want to affect a global shift in consciousness about this. I plan to sell every canvas I can create as quickly as I can paint them, and I want to be in demand as a speaker and lecturer and workshop leader.
Her next question was to ask me what's stopping me from getting there.
I immediately knew that I have blocked myself recently - I have had trouble allowing for all the goodness that's been coming my way because others I know and love and care about are suffering. For some distressed reason, my convoluted logic goes, if they are suffering, I should not be happy. It isn't fair for me to be joyful and living the life I've envisioned because they are so unhappy. If, in fact, I am selfish and self-centered enough to allow myself joy, then I'm a real shit. Instead I should spend my time working to help them be happy and to suffer less.
I realize that is unhealthy thinking. I recognize that I can't actually make anyone else happy, nor can I relieve their suffering. The best thing I can do for the world is to take care of myself and do what I can to make myself happy so no one else needs to worry about me (the way I'm worrying about these other dear people). I have some sort of crazy belief that it's selfish to be happy. Actually though, I'm fun to be around when I'm happy, and I'm productive, and I do great things like paint wonderful paintings and put on huge art shows and performance series.
So from this day on, I'm committing to joy and happiness. I am committing to allowing myself joy and success and prosperity and everything else good. Hopefully the next time I get into such convoluted thinking I will remember this commitment and gently remind myself that it's good for the rest of the world AND me when I'm happy! It isn't selfish. It's a good thing. Just imagine what the world would be like if all of us allowed ourselves the pleasure of being happy regardless of circumstances. Sounds good to me!
After my friends left, I rushed into the studio, ablaze with an idea for a painting I wanted to do. I'd seen the image a few days ago when I was cleaning out my files and it stuck with me. I pulled out the picture, cut a large piece of canvas out, rearranged the studio so I could staple it to a board, squeezed out tons of paint, and got going - no gridding. I drew the image with oil sticks. It wasn't very accurate, but that wasn't my concern. I just wanted to paint. I felt driven like I haven't in a while. It's so freeing to let go of the grid and the perfectionism of making things look as perfect as I can. I smeared the paint onto the canvas and let this woman evolve. When I thought I was done, I took a break - I'd been painting 3-4 hours almost without break - and stood back. I could see lots of room for improvement, but it was time for Letterpress class, so I cleaned my brushes and got ready to go. I stood back again to take a look. So many things to fix. I dabbed a bit of paint on the canvas again - that was all it took - I decided to skip class and to get back to work. I painted another 2 hours. Now she feels mostly done though I can still see some room for improvement.
But now, in my studio, I have an expression of joy and fun, a woman looking at me with enjoyment and pleasure in her eyes, acting like a goof - she was playing with a huge curly Afro wig. We were both laughing as she posed. I'm glad for her radiant energy filling the space.
It feels so f___ing good to have freed up my energy some - finally! Thank you, friend, for your perfectly placed questions. Thank you, lovely model, for giving me such a fun image to paint. And thank you, Universe, for helping me get unstuck. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!