The array of paint colors are infinite. When I first began painting I bought so much paint I became overwhelmed. I've learned now to narrow my palette and just use a few colors and mix what I need. I keep it simple. That translates to my life as well. I keep it simple.
When I was going through the transplant process, I was overwhelmed just as I had been when I shopped for paint. I had to simplify and cut the nonessentials. I've learned moderation and less is more in painting and in life.
I have a tendency to overcomplicate matters and I carried that into my creative process in the beginning. I began to take a step back and relax. I would grasp the paint brush and hold tightly and try to control every single stroke, to the point it was usually a muddled mess by the time I was finished. Now I paint more fluidly and have a more relaxed approach. The proof is in the painting.
The same can also be said for my life. I tried to have such tight control that it too would be a muddled mess. I began to relax and not sweat the small stuff. I worked on what I could change and didn't worry about the things I could not. I still revert back to old habits from time to time and have to remind myself to step back, just like a I do on my painting.
A perfect example of this, is one of my recent projects Childhood Memories on a huge canvas 36×48. It was outside my norm and was a streetscape of a childhood memory from downtown Savannah that reminded me time I spent with my Mom. When I began this project I remembered a quote I heard by landscape painter Stuart Davies on one of his tutorials, which he said, "The hardest part of painting is convincing yourself you can." That resonated with me when I began this huge undertaking. It was my largest and most ambitious project to date. I used everything I had learned up to this point to embark on this mammoth canvas. A bit intimated I started slow and drew out my angles to gain the right perspective, I covered my canvas in yellow ochre as a base and began sketching the houses that would line my street of my childhood memory. The first house was okay but the stairs oj the front door came out wonky and I repainted that. Next I moved onto the next house a more detailed Victorian inspired home complete with gables and tiled roof. A bit more challenging and I ended repainting that house no less than three times. Then the brick home ( my favorite) and so on, till I had my homes painted. I slowly added details and shadows and bright colors to have a childlike perspective. I struggled and painted and repainted each part. I worried it was horrible and flooded my friends with pictures asking for advice and opinions. I even got as far as tossing it in the trash because I couldn't get it right. I stuck with it for two weeks working day and night. I finally took a step back and realized it was off. I couldn't see it as clearly before because I was so intent on being perfect and controlling every single thing it became confusing and overwhelming. I took a two day break from the piece, and took a step back. When I returned to the painting everything was a bit more clearer.
I had seen the issues and painted and tweaked angles and shading. When it was done I sat back and was proud if what I had accomplished. Not because it was that good, but because I learned so much about myself in the process, I gained insight and understanding of my creative process and of my journey.
My life is like that painting. I tried to control so much of it that I lost sight of the bigger picture. When I took a step back I gained a better perspective and knew what I had to do, and more importantly what not to do.