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Letting Go

Part of the practice of mindfulness is practicing letting go. Part of letting go is being aware, aware of the moment we are in without judgment. For artists this practice of non-judgmentalself-esteem awareness is a crucial skill to develop. Why? Because one of our biggest challenges is to look at our own work through the lens of non-judgment.

What is the lens of non-judgment? It is having a clarity of vision around your work which enables you to regard it dispassionately and divorcing your self esteem from personal attachment to the work i.e. thinking or saying things like....

“It’s no good - I’ll never be any good as an artist” and often followed by thoughts like “ I’m so useless - I can’t even draw a straight line.” Etc.

Stay away from the self-denigration trap - you are not your art. Yes, a piece of you goes into the making of it and then you let it go - like children released into the world. You’ve done your best, whatever that may be and now the work must stand or fall on its own merit.

What lens are you looking at your art through?

As a mentor of mine loved to say, ‘It’s brush mileage’. Swimmers swim thousands of kilometers in a career. Artists brush thousands of kilometers upon their canvasses. So it makes sense to get your mental state in order before you begin.

So the next time you are berating yourself about your lack of skill or whatever else it might be, stop, breathe, and instead take a moment to stand back and only look. Importantly when you look at the work, begin by looking with no mind chatter. Merely observe and try to absorb what the painting is telling you on a nonverbal level. This is where looking in a mirror or turning the work upside down can help, or, you may not need a mental analysis at this point. If your intuition is fired up you will know exactly what you need to do next. So let go of your preconceived ideas about the painting and be open to what the work is telling you to do.

Image Credits: Balloon - S. Hermann & F. Richter

: Pink glasses - Mabel Amber

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