Showing Up Matters Most


A blank canvas IS uncertainty. I feel it every time I set up to paint. But the only way to move from uncertainty to less uncertainty is to try (and maybe fail). And that’s the beauty of deliberate practice—it’s intentional practice. There is no expectation to complete work, only to practice.

We can work with a coach or teacher, who will assign things to practice doing. Or we can design our own deliberate practice. Each session is an opportunity to practice doing what is difficult and finding answers to overcome limitations.

2 responses to “Showing Up Matters Most”

  1. You have conveyed the heartbeat of what plein air is about, all its’ regards and frustration. I have painted en plein air for about 11 years off and on through several of those years. This year I think that I feel the most comfortable and yet what you wrote in your first paragraph could have been written by me! The unknown is met every time I go out to paint. I really like the exercise that you undertook of painting every day for a determined amount of days to learn to let go of the end product. I still grasp onto that idea that a painting needs to be finished, though not as much which is absolutely freeing. Wonderful post!

  2. Thank you, Margaret. Truly, every painting/study I start causes me to hesitate and think, “OMG! How am I going to do this?” One other thing I’ve learned about myself from working toward the 50 studies in 50 days is that I can’t let daily painting be an “option.” It has to be something I just do — like eating or brushing my teeth. When I leave it as an option, I struggle with myself about whether or not to do it. I’m finding that when I don’t leave it as an option, I don’t waste time deciding. And I love the freedom to just paint, like I did when I was taking art classes in school, and not worry about whether everything I do is good enough to sell or show people.

    I just ordered more panels to paint, and I’m thinking about being even more structured with my deliberate practice. The leaves are falling off the trees here in Minnesota, which leaves us with all those bare branches. I know I need to paint the “mass” rather than the individual branches, but I “see” the branches. So I need to figure out how I can represent the gray mass in a way that is pleasing to me. It may take a few paintings to get that one thing accomplished.

    I hope you can give yourself some freedom to just paint. : )

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