I have a strong tendency towards enthusiastically starting new projects I don’t realize are, shall we say, ambitious.
To be honest, it’s worked pretty well for me. If I had stopped to think about how much work would be involved, I may not have gotten started on some of the things I’m the most proud of doing.
Right now I’m working on one of those ambitious projects. I’m confident that I’ll get it done. I’m even confident it will turn out well. But, wow, I didn’t know I was giving myself this big of a challenge.
Many times, when I go to paint, I end up holding a brush and standing in front of a large canvas thinking, “OK, umm… what do I need to do here?” It can be pretty daunting, and jumping around from place to place on the canvas doesn’t work well for me.
Typically what I need to do is start thinking smaller. What I’ve recently started to do is approach each painting session with a plan. I try to figure out what I want to tackle before I grab the brush. I don’t have to paint two hands, I have to paint one hand. I don’t have to paint a whole hand, I just need to paint one finger. I don’t have to paint a whole finger, just one fingernail.
And so on, until I’ve painted all the tiny little bits one by one and they come together into a completed work of art.
Except, I’m a big picture person, and dealing with details is a challenge for me.
Which is where discipline comes in. I love painting, but there are lots of times where I have to resist the urge to say “this is too much, I’m going to go do something else.”
Staying with it pays off. I suspect the “staying with it” part is what makes it art.
Please tell me what you think in the comments below! Oh, and since you’re here, I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage you to sign up for my email newsletter. I’ll be sending out a monthly note with updates on new work. You can use the convenient form on the right side of the page, or follow this link to sign up (clicking the link will open a new browser tab).