Planning, Painting, and Creativity

I have a love/hate relationship with planning. On one hand, I love it because I think my instinct is want to be in control; I want to know what's happening and what's going to happen next and how I can prepare and all of that. On the other hand, I hate it because I love spontaneity and seeing what random things happen and being surprised. My life often reflects this; the past year and a half of marriage and life in general has shown me that no matter how much I plan, things often just happen differently. I don't think I ever really saw myself living in Montreal or creating a calligraphy business or thinking about this as work or creating things for people that they're willing to pay for (still, whaat?!) - yet, this is my life right now. I love it, but I also would have never guessed this or planned this - perhaps because I didn't know any of these things were options, but more probably and honestly, because I just don't have the wisdom. 

As I am learning about this with life, I am learning about this with art. I find sometimes the most interesting stuff I create is stuff that just... happens. I don't draft out in pencil, but I just... paint or ink and things just appear and when I step back, I think, gosh, I think I like that! I am learning this especially as I paint flowers and leaves, and more so perhaps because I am watching my own plants grow and learning to paint the same way they grow. I thought about this while watering my little plants this weekend, and how my plants don't grow all at once into large bushes and shrubbery; they grow leaf by leaf, and I get to watch little buds come up and slowly uncurl into leaves in different shades of green. What if I painted in the same way? What if I didn't draft out how I want the plant to look, but what if I painted leaf by leaf, and just let something grow? 

It's funny how scary that was, to let go of my pencil and start right with the brush. And when I really think about that fear and why it's there, I wonder if it's this fear that it won't work out, that the leaf is gonna be really ugly, that I'm going to make this horrid mistake and ruin this whole piece forever and ever... and then I wonder how much that fear pervades into the rest of my life. Am I afraid to try something new and get cards or pieces printed because I'm afraid it'll fail? Are we afraid to stay or move because we're afraid we're making a mistake? Am I afraid to do something, anything, because I'm afraid to be wrong, to fail, to not be in control? There are so many more ways I could apply these questions of fear, but what I see in all of them is how fear of being wrong and failing is so, so crippling. 

My husband is the most creative person I know, and he always tells me that creating means you can't be afraid to "kill your babies", as he oh-so-delicately puts it. He always tells me that I can't just hang onto the first thing I create, but I have to be willing to be wrong and to make mistakes and destroy in order to make something good. I think underlying all of that is this sense that in order to really create, it has to be done out of a place of freedom. I can't be afraid that nothing good will come or that I'll make a mistake or that I'll mess up; I need to create from freedom, knowing that good WILL come and that making mistakes is okay, primarily because my worth and value doesn't have to be in what I create. 

And I think at the end of it, for me, creating has a lot to do with God. It has to do with trusting that He is the best Creator, and that when I create I get to be like Him. It has to do with hoping in Him as the One who created first, as the One who creates and will create the best things. It has to do with trusting that He has far better plans beyond any I could ever make, and knowing that He is with me as I try out new things as an act of saying hey, I trust You. It has to do with knowing I am so, so loved by Him, and that whether I make a mistake or fail or am wrong, He shows me grace and gives me life and freedom every single time. 

Painting those leaves, then, ended up being really fun, when I realized I was free to mess up. I could plan or not plan; I could make them look crazy, and whatever it ended up looking like, it was a good process for me in even seeing that just as leaves grow one by one, I can create one by one, piece by piece, and He is walking before me and revealing to me how to follow Him step by step. I don't need the whole picture because He's got it, and I want to trust the best Artist, the best Creator. 

SO, this was made out of that painting session - a quote by Joseph Chilton Pearce. It sits on my wall and reminds me to go ahead boldly, and I'd like to share that with you as well, as a reminder for your heart. This piece can be used as a wallpaper for your phone (!), so go ahead, download - it's FREE. :) 


Whatever the creative life and creativity means to you, my hope for you is that you would draw that first leaf, write that first word, take that first step, and go boldly, not being afraid to mess up or be wrong or fail, but to just GO out of knowing that you are so, so loved.