SHUSH and Keep Going

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

I recently just started hosting 4-week adult classes for beginner painters in the studio and if there is one thing we all can agree on, the halfway struggle is a real thing. I thought this would be a good blog topic since it can help you understand what you are going to experience, before you experience it. This is all in hopes that your prepared knowledge and awareness will make it easier for you to persevere when the time comes, if that makes sense.

The Halfway Struggle is the moment that every artist will experience in MOST of their paintings. I say this because we do have those rare moments where we just know exactly what we want to paint, how to paint it, and it must be done now for no particular reason, and gosh darn it if it didn't turn out beautiful the first time with every brush stroke... How did I even do that?! This is inspiration. Some of us are lucky enough to have mastered those moments and turned them into careers. Kudos to you, my friend, seriously. However, I am referring to those of us who are still depending on things like commission work to pay our bills, which is MOST.

More often than not, commission work and pieces are for other people and the things that inspire them. Not the artist painting it. Sometimes as the artist it is hard to find that inspiration on something that we HAVE to do to pay our bills but it inspires someone else. We test ourselves with new techniques to get the job done. Particular steps and layers may be tedious with repetitive strokes to fill in the space and we just can't focus on it. We push ourselves to find solutions to the things we need to be good at but may not naturally be, which we already know can be frustrating no matter what the subject matter. These are the paintings that we come to find ourselves in the halfway struggle. The feeling of dissatisfaction halfway through it because you aren't entirely sure of yourself with what you currently have. It sits to the side for a few days, probably a little too long, and is at risk of being ignored until we absolutely must find a solution and deadlines are coming. In reality, you just aren't done yet and your own lack of self-confidence is stopping you from finding out if you can do it. You haven't pushed the painting itself to it's full potential yet, and here you are judging it like a buffoon knowing damn well you aren't done yet. This is where painting teaches us perseverance, my favorite P word. But that's for another blog article.

It's the moment where you feel like you have put in so much work already but it isn't quite what you want it to be yet. You start to feel stuck. Something isn't quite right and no matter how long you stare at the damn thing, ya just can't figure it out. You get bored. You just don't like it and you can't even say why. There's only one way to learn to do it and make yourself better. You know you just need to keep going with it. You have to, or maybe you won't get paid. You only feel this way because it is just starting to take it's shape but it isn't quite there yet. Maybe it's a technique you haven't used very often and aren't confident it looks the way it should yet.

Gosh I hate when people talk about my work when I am not finished doing what I want with it. When they tell you things that need fixed when you totally planned on doing that but haven't gotten that far yet... I try to wait until I have pushed my way through and completed the work before I put it up for criticism. I push it to my own full potential THEN ask for help. I hate when people judge me before I have completed myself, I suppose, is what I'm trying to say. Don't do it to yourself and don't do it to your painting. Do not get caught in this trap. It will literally stunt your growth and progress. Learn to tell yourself to SHUSH, take a deep breath, and keep going. It is the most useful psychological tool you can train into your brain as a creative individual. Perhaps any successful individual in any mastered profession, for that matter.

Learning to SHUSH yourself and keep going will trickle into other parts of your life. Your exercise routine, yoga (obviously), stressful situations that you must persevere and push yourself through... the Halfway Struggle is no exception. First time painters experience this the most (almost every single one of us) and for those of you who are thinking about coming in for a paint event but are scared of the brush... I have just bestowed upon you a magical piece of advice that will unlock all of your creative mojo that you didn't know you had. You can come in for a paint event with the confidence of the leopard that you are, knowing that you can do anything because when you become unsure of yourself you know to SHUSH and keep going. It's the only way to win and you now know how. You took the time to read my words and listen to what I have to say. My gift to you, in thanks for listening, is this winning piece of advice.

Anytime you are feeling unsure of yourself, anytime you feel like you aren't good enough, anytime you are frustrated trying something new, anytime you are bored but have to do the things, anytime you need to take care of yourself physically but have no motivation to go to the gym, anytime you find yourself in a Halfway Struggle, anytime you don't believe in yourself... SHUSH and keep going.

If you don't, you never will. And those who made it have already figured this out. <3

-Miss A

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