Let’s continue the analogy of planting a garden and growing a watercolor practice. In the last post we ended with you imagining yourself painting, even just for five minutes a day. Now, back to our garden …
If you planted the seeds too close together, you will have to pluck some of them out of the ground to give the others room to grow. If you don’t, all of your plants will be weak and their lives short and stunted.
Sometimes the habits we learn when we first begin to paint seem like the easiest way to keep painting. That doesn’t mean they are good habits to keep.
For example, it might be easier to blot excess water from a painting in the beginning; but it’s not nearly as helpful as learning how much water to use, and how to control it will be later in your painting life.
Practice more painting without blotting.
Even after the seedlings are up and ready to bear fruit, your work continues. There’s the watering, and weeding, and even talking to your garden.
At first you might be fearful about your painting practice. Yet unless you continue to “feed, weed, water, prune, and nurture” your new painting, it will die before it’s had time to grow.
When growing tomatoes, you must pinch off some of the additional leaves to encourage the plant to bear fruit. If you don’t pinch, the plant becomes “leggy” and produces fewer tomatoes.
This same “leggy” or “adolescent stage” happens with paintings too. Don’t worry! We ALL go through this and you can too! Keep painting!
Take five minutes each day to look at your paintings in progress.
Allow for down time between your painting times. During the down times, don’t pick up the brush, just think about your painting.
Allow your mind to get used to the idea of you painting. Allow your hand to hunger for the touch of the brush. You will know when it’s time to paint again.
When that time comes, only paint what you “know” to paint. Let your painting, and your hand guide you to paint. Keep your mind and your inner critic at bay.
Trust only in the process. Trust that as surely as you knew it was time to paint, you will know what to paint next.
Paint quickly and boldly.
Give your painting space and time so you can see and hear it more clearly.
In this way your confidence in your painting skills will grow.
If your abilities and skills catch up with your ideas, your confidence might slip or your desire to paint could ebb.
If that happens, you have reached your first plateau; you have leveled off.
It’s time to shake things up. Try a new technique. Take a new class. Learn a new skill. Take your painting to the next level. Paint new and more challenging subjects.
If you don’t challenge yourself, your interest and your confidence will begin to erode.
Cultivate your confidence to keep it, and your paintings, STRONG!