I experienced something profound recently--at least profound in my own life as a writer and artist. I have to confess, I'm a bit of a packrat. I prefer not to throw things away. I like to pile things up knowing if I ever need something, I can find it--somewhere. Like my books. I save a different Word document for each day of writing. Is that neurotic? I know it may seem strange. But I have, on occasion, realized that something I wrote a while ago and disposed of, was good. I just search through my files until I find it, and voila, it's back into place.
Well, my artwork has always been a little different. I'm one of those folks who feel that whatever comes out on the canvas is what should be there. My best work is instinctive, not over-fudging. Last week I painted a piece and worked on it every night for days. This is not how I like to work, but it just wasn't doing it for me. So I added this and added that over and over until my three-year-old daughter came in on the last day--when it was done, mind you--and said, "I don't like that!" Normally, she loves my work. So I said, "You know, honey? You're absolutely right. I don't like it either."
What happened next was liberating. I did something I've never done--I found the only thing that was working on the canvas, a woman, and kept her. Then I completely painted over everything else. Every decision I made about color or stroke was straight from the gut with no overthinking. And do you know what? I dropped it off at the gallery on Saturday and with it still propped up against the wall and not even hung up yet, "Peace" sold within three days. That validation--that I should listen to my gut and not let my mind over-edit--is a valuable lesson for me and something I intend to take with me into my writing life. Sometimes, if you're inner-child is screaming, "Yuk!" it's best to just paint over that over-worked canvas and create something totally fresh.