Tip #1 Embrace the Blank Canvas (10 Tips for Freestyle Painting)

blank canvasSelf doubts plague all of us, but especially newbies who are prone to be particularly self-sabotaging. The only difference is that as you learn the process and begin to trust yourself, you start to feel comfortable with being uncomfortable about painting and just “keep going.” But as with anything, you have to START.

What first comes to your thought when you think  art, artist, creative, intuitive? Write out your initial thoughts.

Now what first comes to thought when you put the word “me” in front of it? Write out your initial thoughts.

Oh believe me does any of these negative thoughts sound familiar?

I’m not an artistI can’t paint! That’s WAY WAY Too scary and way too artistic! • I’m more of a craft/project person - tell me what to do and how to do it and I like that more • You have to be “born” a painter - it’s in your blood! • I loved painting as a child, but never “did it right I guess” or was told I wasn’t that good, so I thought I wasn’t • Painting is way too frustrating because I have an “idea” in my head and it never comes out the way I want • Freestyle painting is the ultimate intimidation! How the heck am I supposed to paint abstractly when I have no idea what I’m painting to begin with! •Blank canvas is the most terrifying thing for me. As soon as I start I truly love working with the painting but I have major blank canvas syndrome

Ok answers to all of the above is just to START, START, START, START!

And take a second to just think about this: When you cook, you don’t stress out staring at the counter tops or the oven/stove in disbelief because you can’t cook! You don’t pull out all your ingredients and just stare in horror that somehow these items will be put together into some dish that will be delicious? You know the eggs, butter, flour, salt, vanilla extract, etc. (totally separate and kind of weird objects in themselves when you sit to think about it) will be parts of the total whole, which are cookies! You also know that while dough is yummy, it’s really not what is the end project. Cooked cookies are the finale (even though yes, we all make cookie dough and stop right there!)

My point is that you just start.  You don’t question yourself IF you are a cook, you just are. You are a cook because you are cooking! Now you may not consider yourself a gourmet cook, a good baker or griller or perhaps you just throw things together from frozen stuff or left overs or whatever. But you still are in the act of cooking. No matter what that definition is or how it is specifically defined, you cook yourself or your family a meal.

But most importantly - You also trust the process. You know that all those ingredients will make cookies (now if they are good cookies or not that’s another topic). But right now it DOES NOT MATTER. Just get your paints, get your water and get your brushes. Find that paper or canvas or board or whatever you want to paint on . . . and set your timer to paint.

If you want to start, just begin with 20 minutes - set your timer on your iPhone or whatever and paint till the beeping goes off. And then put aside and don't judge. Next day, do the same until at some point you hopefully get into it and keep painting after the beeper goes off. But the key right now is NOT TO JUDGE ANYTHING - it's so difficult! I KNOW. Believe me. I've been there many many times. But like a cook, you are an artist, because you are painting right now. And that's all that you need to be aware of right now.


My sister shared this cooking analogy with me when I first started to discuss the possibility of going back to school for . . . art. I was living in Chicago at the time in a great job (one that I could probably have still stayed in over a decade later) but my life was empty. I was very depressed (didn't know it then but realized it looking back). I was yearning for a more creative life. But I was not cut out to be a graphic designer for lie, or in advertising or marketing. It just never felt right. But it wasn't practical at all and my husband was completely bewildered that I would even consider going back to school for art instead of MFA in Graphic Design. This analogy really stayed with me - it was so simple but in it's essence very profound.

Check out my post on how it all began for me - the "Painting that changed my life" in college.