Finding Truth, Acrylics on Stretched Canvas, 30 x 30 inches

You may, or may not, have noticed that I’ve been AWOL for much of the past year. And, no, it wasn’t because I’d turned my back on painting – actually it’s been quite the opposite. Let me explain…

Right through last year, I’d been experiencing a distinct sense of apathy creatively speaking. In other words, I’d lost my mojo (and not for the first time!). So, I did myself a favour and invested my well earned money into doing the Art2Life programme – the Creative Visionary Path (CVP). In essence, it’s an intensive three month programme, run by Nicholas Wilton, which helps artists (whether beginning or professional) to reinvigorate their art practice. The major areas covered in the course include the basic principles of design, value, colour and texture, as well as the all-important aspects of process, risk and soul. 

While I baulked initially at the cost of the programme, it turned out to be worth every bit of the investment and more. I learned things I should have learned at art school, but never did. I also reconnected with my own artistic vision and direction. But, most importantly, I learned how to trust in myself and my ability to inject who I am into my work. That’s no small feat for a three month course!

One of the best (and most joyous) outcomes has been to experience the state of ‘beginner’s mind’. Having a sense of curiosity about what we each personally connect with in our painting, is perhaps the most emphasised aspect of the course. ‘Figure out what you love and do more of it’, was a consistent catch-phrase. We soon learned that it was a recipe perfectly geared towards not just painting, but life as well.

And, in that state of curiosity, I slowly but surely found myself becoming less invested in what others were doing in their work and much more interested in what I had to ‘say’. That said, this movement away from an external authority to trust in one’s own authority is no easy feat. Many of us don’t do well at trusting ourselves when it comes to making art – let’s face it, we’re induced throughout our lives (unless we’re bloody lucky) to hand over our power to others. One then literally has to relearn what it is to trust in one’s own ability. And it is this that CVP ultimately teaches people to do – you could say that it teaches life skills through the vehicle of art-making.

With the course behind me (though I’m now happily ensconced in the Art2Life Academy), I endeavour to maintain ‘beginner’s mind’ each time I stand in front of my canvas. Of course, I still find myself lured into self-judgement and comparison from time to time, but the die has been cast now and there’s no turning back.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
Shunryu Suzuki