The Thief of Joy

Thief of JoyThere is such a fine line between inspiration and comparison.

A slippery slope indeed.

What starts as a desire to grow, to learn from others, can quickly tumble into a world of self-doubt and insecurity.

Not good enough.

I'll never paint like that.

What was I thinking?

When I first saw one of Flora Bowley's paintings, I was mesmerized by how fluid it was, the richness and depth of the colors.  I knew I wanted to learn how to paint like that.  With abandon.  With freedom.  Intuitively.

And so, when her Bloom True course opened for registration opened for January of this year, I signed up.  It felt so good to be painting again, and Flora's course was everything I'd hoped for; instructive, inspiring, with ample support and a caring network of fellow students.

At first I loved accessing the Facebook site and following the progress of my classmates.  Shot after shot would pop up on my Instagram feed, one more beautiful than the next.

Inspiring and uplifting, until I started to work on my own canvas and the Thief of Joy crept in.

Slow and stealthy, so quiet that I didn't notice at first.

Joy slowly turned into doubt.  And what started as a project of love turned into a wrestling match.

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The first four layers, were freeing and fun.  But then, something happened.

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I began to doubt the process.  And myself.  My need to turn the art into something concrete took over, and I had trouble letting go.

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Soon, it became a different painting all together.  And I lost the initial joy that had been imbued in the earlier layers.

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It's funny.  One reason I think it occurred is because I began to have this image in my mind as to what I wanted the final painting to look like and once that image took hold it was difficult for me to let it go.  By hanging on to that image I forfeited a lot of the original richness of detail.  I miss it.

As I painted each layer I found myself comparing my progress to other's work.  In my mind, my piece always came up lacking.  I took the bold (and for me courageous) step of publishing my progress on Instagram and in the Facebook group and while the feedback was positive, I felt that my work was mediocre compared to others.

The Thief of Joy had completely overtaken my mindset.

One day I realized that my attitude was self-sabotaging and destructive.  It was sapping me of my joy.  I was allowing my ego and insecurities to get the better of me.  It was time to stop, to let go of 'not good enough'.

What I realized is that in order to grow as an artist I needed to paint. I needed to pick up the brush and trust.  I am at the beginning of a new adventure.  My artist's voice is evolving, and what is actually wonderful is the fact that it is unique.  By painting again I am finding out who I am.

And I am enough.

Sharing Nurturing Thursday with Becca.