Last month, I shared a French phrase that has been guiding my paintings since I returned from my fall 2016 trip to Limoux: Pas de peur; pas d’égo. No fear; no ego. It is the way I wish to create and what I wish for all creatives, everywhere: That we can let go of the stumbling blocks of fear and overcome the hindrance of ego as we bring our work to life on whatever our canvas might be.
Letting go of fear hasn’t always been easy for me. And until recently, I didn’t realize that ego was such a barrier, either. For far too long, I’ve let that voice in the back of my head grab the microphone and project its doubts and shame: Will anyone even like this? Why are you trying so hard? Who do you think you are?
That voice is fear. It’s the questions of whether I’ll fail; of whether I’m good enough. That voice is also ego. It’s the questions of whether anyone else will like it; of whether I’ll be accepted.
Of course, as an artist, it’s tough to separate ourselves from our work, which is what makes fear and ego so hard to overcome. Yet as I’ve spent more time with my paintbrush in hand over the last few years, I’ve found the answer to fear and ego. Actually, I can’t quite say I found it...it was there all along.
It’s the appreciation of painting as my meditation. The act of meditation -- spending time in quiet thought -- often evokes images of people cross-legged on comfortable rugs, with candles burning. And while I’m also fully onboard with cozy meditation corners, I find that my most meditative state comes in front of an easel, with a palette of colors and the light shining on the scene in front of me.
It’s during this time that I see and feel deeper than anywhere else in my life.
As Eckhart Tolle describes, it’s also during this time that “the stillness speaks to me.”
The scenes, the objects, the light -- it speaks to me as I paint. It’s what gives me the ability to look deeply into something as “simple” as a flower and feel the energy it has; to become part of it.
This meditative state is what makes painting such a spiritual practice for me.
But, most importantly, it’s a place where fear and ego aren’t welcome. It’s a place where my surroundings speak to me, drowning out any doubts, and all voices of fear and ego. It’s a deep, deep place I want to invite all creatives into, and a place I never want to leave.