Dusting off the paintbrushes

It’s been four months since my last post. Thank you for standing by, dear readers. My last post was about caregiving, and when I wrote it, I felt confident I could return to painting while my mom lived with me and fought pancreatic cancer. That wasn’t to be the case, as the roller coaster of this blasted disease continued until the end of the year, and it was enough I could do to maintain my work ethic at my day job (which I love) and raise my now teenage daughter (oy!), while being there for my mom. The canvases continued to sit idle as did my participation in social media. It was worth it. Our family has been truly blessed. My mom finally did recover from the surgery known as the “Whipple”, one of the most complex surgeries there is, and she now is undergoing chemotherapy with only one side effect – fatigue. We are filled with hope that the scan after her treatment will show she’s beaten this disease. It’s been a miraculous process.

My parents found a terrific rental in my neighborhood last month and have settled in nicely. It’s wonderful to have them so close, and I know everyone is grateful to have their own space again. I’ve recovered from the stress and exhaustion, and I reverted the room they occupied in my home back into an art studio. It is time to dust off the paintbrushes and get to work on the six large blank canvases that are sitting there waiting for me to bring them to life.

This is HARD. I haven’t held a paintbrush in seven months, and my art instructor Michael Schliefke moved away to Kansas City. I’m on my own. I know I can do this, but getting started is harder than I thought it would be. I’ve started planning three paintings and have been thinking about the subjects, the palette I’m going to use, and the technique I’m going to use. I have simplified my environment, decluttering and removing possessions and activities that don’t spark joy to leave the space and the time for the those that do. (For more on this, I recommend a powerful book by Marie Kondo called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. This is not your typical organizational self-help book; it is about changing your relationship with your stuff.)

My environment is ready. I’m ready. But I haven’t actually begun creating anything yet. So I find myself here, writing to you, to put the motivation and accountability in place to get moving. My goal is to complete six paintings by the end of November and host an event in my home to show them in early December. There. Now that I have stated this goal out loud to others, I feel motivated and accountable to follow through and complete six paintings in nine months.

To remind myself what it felt like to be motivated in my art and to reawaken the determination to create, I wanted to share the last painting I completed right before my mother’s diagnosis.  It’s a study of Ben Fenske’s “Johanna Fixing her Skirt.” I enjoyed painting this very much and created it on my own with no instruction from Michael.

Have you ever had to proclaim a goal and ask for accountability in order to get motivated to start or follow through on your goal?

Johanna Fixing her Skirt, oil on canvas, 8" x 10"
Johanna Fixing her Skirt, oil on canvas, 8″ x 10″

One thought on “Dusting off the paintbrushes

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  1. I probably should do that for starting my own business. As long as it is a secret, I can let all the obstacles, small and HUGE, be an excuse to keep it ‘in development’.


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