I had finished painting the view from the window when I confronted the cold, harsh truth that I didn’t know where to go next. I had no ideas or inspiration to guide me (something I like to rely on). Gazing at the painting for awhile, it became obvious to me that the woman should be in shadow, but not so much so that the shadows would be darker than any dark in the scene outside. I began to paint the figure, and it wasn’t until I finished that I realized I’d done something extraordinarily different from anything I’d ever done before.
I liked what I’d done but how would other people react to it? (You know, that pesky voice that insists you’re only as good as other people view you to be). I hadn’t painted the figure as conventionally as I’d done in the past. In fact, the figure was uniquely different from anything I’d ever done or seen before, so much so that the fear of being judged as inept or (God forgive) a failure overcame me. I wasn’t even sure I wasn’t but just a few days later I serendipitously read this:
“Risk is only something which I’m not prepared to take for what I do not value.”
So on to the big question. What do I value? What I value most is authenticity and to be authentic, I believe, means that I share both my mind’s truth, what I’m seeing with my eyes, and my creative or spiritual truth. What I believe my spiritual truth to be is sharing what I’m feeling in response to what I’m seeing. In the case of my art this means I want to free myself to be both who I am mentally and creatively. The risk I take is being able to express both without censure. When this works, I’m always feeling lighter, surer about what has come into being. I’m awestruck with the result.
So, the other day, armed with the knowledge that whether or not anyone else liked my painting, rather than risking compromise, I gave myself permission to risk for what I value. I freed myself to follow my intuition and, when I showed the painting to a group of my friends, still wondering if I’d let myself believe in something that could never be, I was happily surprised when I received enthusiastic approval for what I’d done.
I’m more sure than ever that we always know our truth. If we’re not knowing, it’s only because we’re doubting what really is.