One of the hardest things I ever have to do is get myself into my studio to begin working. Once work commences, I’m fine, and the time flies by. I’m absorbed. I’m having fun! I don’t want to stop. I think, “How can I ever think that this is hard?” And yet, when it’s time to return, after lunch, or worse, several days later, I’d do any dreaded household chore just to avoid entering my studio. Knowing that I’ll be okay once I begin doesn’t help.
Over the years, I’ve developed some strategies for dealing with this feeling of dread. One of the most effective techniques is that before I leave my canvas, I plan the first thing that I’ll do when I return, and write it down. This has to be a very specific, easily do-able thing, such as, “make this shadow darker with a bluish glaze’ or ‘add some light paint to this onion stem.’ Planning this way enables me to contemplate returning to work without thinking I have to be brilliant. I don’t have to accomplish anything great or difficult- I just have to do this simple thing. Once I’m back in front of my easel, and I’ve done the thing, the work just flows.
Another thing I’ve discovered over the years is that I don’t have to feel like painting to paint. If I always waited to feel like it, I might never go in my studio again! I simply (or not so simply) have to just do it. This is so hard, but at least I’m not a slave to my emotions. Just making myself work puts me in charge.
I’ve also learned that the more often I work, the less hard it is to get to work. The weeks that I paint 4 days are much easier than when I’ve just painted once. I feel more in touch with my painting and what I need to do.