A Way Through, Acrylics on Canvas, 30 x 40 inches

Some of you might be aware of the fact that, for several years, I lost my painting mojo. I fought valiantly to hang on to it, but it slipped quietly and slowly away over a number of years. I moved on to other things and assumed I’d never paint again. The funny thing is though, when I truly let it go, the desire to paint crept back again.

When I finally felt ready to pick up the paint brushes again, I promised myself that I would stop trying to be a ‘serious artist’ and simply allow for the freedom of creative play. And, that’s exactly what I did, working mostly on paper and in journals. It was just the remedy I needed.

A year or so later, I started feeling the itch to go bigger with my work so I hauled out some of my stored canvases and set out to paint. I did a few paintings, but something just didn’t feel right with them, though I couldn’t put my finger on whatever the problem was. What I didn’t understand until much later, was that during the years I’d given up painting I’d lost my confidence – both personally and creatively. Consequently, it felt safer to paint small. And, though I was now working on larger canvases, I still worked on them as though they were small, painting small shapes and using small brushes and tools.

It wasn’t until I signed up for the Art2Life Creative Visionary Program, that I clicked as to what was going on. Nicholas Wilton, the founder of Art2Life, suggested that when scaling up to a larger format artists need to essentially ‘scale up’ to match it, not only in terms of the tools they used, but their personal consciousness as well. In other words, to paint big we need to feel ‘big’. It was an intriguing idea and intuitively it felt right.

Now, expanding one’s sense of self is not an easy task. Especially for those of us who were made, intentionally or otherwise, to feel ‘small’ as we were growing up. If truth be told, I’ve always felt ‘small’, which might seem rather odd considering I’m a strapping 5’10”! Don’t get me wrong, I go about my life quite normally, but deep down there’s a default safety button that cautions me against being too visible.

That said, since taking the Art2Life course, I’ve been intentionally working on embodying fuller consciousness, at least in front of the canvas. Essentially, I’m faking it until I make it. Only time will tell whether the courage to show up more fully becomes second nature, or whether I’ll always need to take a deep breath and plunge in regardless of how ‘small’ I might be feeling. Of one thing I’m certain – becoming more of who you are has got to be a worthy aim and if you can achieve it in one area of your life, there’s a much better chance to achieve it in others.

“The greatest act of courage is to be and to own all of who you are — without apology, without excuses, without masks to cover the truth of who you are.”
Debbie Ford