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The Blank Canvas

Spring is in the air, I have been watching the changing of the season as I head to work each day, the moon still in the sky as the sun starts to rise in the east…a beautiful red glowing ball that seems to shout with joy and anticipation for the new day.

Spring is all about renewal. We seem to come out of hibernation and begin to seek new projects, spring cleaning, de-cluttering and ridding of the old as we put on the new.

One of my wishes for this spring was to participate in a paint nite. It was important for two reasons…one to justify the paint supplies I bought last fall on a whim and two… to explore something new.

I cannot tell you how excited I was when I received an invite to go to my very first paint nite! I thought “wow” finally I can see how the paint supplies are used then I will know what to do with everything I bought and put on the shelf all those months ago.

When I arrived, the picture we were painting was up on display and it looked great! Thanks to a great idea by my wonderful friend, I was going to step out of the box and paint with red not the aquamarine, even though it looked beautiful.

We found our table and saw our supplies…the paint brushes and paint….and the blank canvas…. It was in this moment that reality set in and I started to get very nervous. Oh my god what was I going to do?! I cannot tell you what I felt in the moment where my friend said we start by painting the whole canvas with water…I thought okay I can do this, really how hard can it be… did I put enough water on…did I put too much water on?

It was going downhill fast and I hadn’t even started with the paints yet! Now I had prepared by watching the recommended brush tips videos including the one on making a moon so when the instructor started us with creating the moon on the canvas I thought I can do that… I watched the video. Well, long story short…my moon looked more like an eye than a moon but I was okay with that…I was just relieved to figure out how to use the papa brush and do blending of black and white.

As the evening went on there were step by step instructions, I struggled sometimes trying to understand then when it would become clearer I would quietly clap inside as I moved through each layer of the painting.

I could start to feel myself relax a little as I started to paint the tree, the limbs and the swing. I was starting to feel like I was painting with my heart and that I was getting out of my head. By the time I got to the red I was letting loose! I was splattering paint like I knew what I was doing, blending white and red like an expert! Oh joy, the glorious pink!

And there it was…the finished masterpiece! I confess I was feeling quite proud of myself. It was a wonderful evening!

That night when I got home I placed the painting on the counter, and then I found myself looking at the flaws and the mistakes in the work. I immediately stopped myself, my critical and self-judgemental place that I used to live in and I had a choice to make in that moment…so I kicked her to curb.

There are no words to describe that moment for me; I just know that this paint nite had become something very important in my life journey, my story.

The next morning as I went on to Facebook to post the photos I took of the different stages of my painting, I discovered an old post, which had a photo of the crabapple blossom tree in my back yard, each spring coming to life with it’s beautiful pink flowers and I looked again at my painting…it was spring…the time of renewal, of looking forward to the new season and all that it brings. This was more than a painting it was life, my life.

How many of us get excited for a new start, a new beginning …we can see exactly how everything is to look in the end, we have the perfect image in our mind. Then there we stand in front of the blank canvas nervous and uncertain of what to do. We become afraid of it rather than opening up to see what the blank canvas can actually represent, it is clean and unmarked which allows us to do anything we want.

I realized then that as I had gone through each of the steps of the painting, it was the layers that would create the finished result, my beautiful crabapple blossom tree and all that it represented to me.

Like the process to create the painting, our experiences build the layers of who we can become. For every choice and decision we make we are taking the blank canvas of our lives and creating a story, our own story.

Today I ask you to think about your hopes, your dreams, your goals…then stand in front of your blank canvas. Just take one step at a time, a few strokes here and there, layering as you go along. Allow yourself to just be you, be free and creative, let loose as you express yourself. When you are done, stand back and enjoy. Be proud of yourself, it is okay. And don’t forget to kick that critical and self judgemental creature to the curb so you can blossom in the masterpiece you have created, who is YOU, beautiful YOU.

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