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Creative Block

“I don’t know how to paint,” I recently told both my son and a good friend. The friend responded, “No painter ever in the history of art has ever thought that, right?” That’s right. Not Van Gogh or any of those others. No one.

So I’ve been struggling with three paintings I’m been working on. Each new thing I try seems to go badly. Or I’ll be happy with one and a few hours later, I think it’s absolutely terrible. A dog’s breakfast, I’d say if I was British. Rubbish. Deserves to be thrown into the bin. Or tossed on the fire. I don’t even have a fire. What then?

And then there are other things. The heat and other things. It’s been a general miasma over here the last little while.

As a result, I’ve been pulling out the old standbys I use to lift my mood. Went to the gym, finally. On the track, I listened to a Gratitude Walk, which turned out to be more like Interval Training with just a hint of gratitude. Kicked my butt but I liked it. Slipped back into the funk after a couple of hours, though. Later concluded I do not know how to paint. Went to the gym the following day, with music on the iPod. Nice but then I required an Epsom salts bath, a nap, and chocolate. Gave my paintings the stink eye.

This is the painting my son wants for Christmas.

Today, however, we had a lovely, breezy, cool morning. I took Miles to Stephens Park and we walked around the lake, which was absolutely lovely. And then I went back out on my own, through the neighborhood, with Ceasar Happily aka Ceasar F. Barajas, a meditation/yoga teacher, narrating “Walk and Chill” on my phone. Oh my Lord! Lovely. Wonderful voice, amazing energy, beautifully encouraging words. And then it started raining. I love being out in the rain and so this was an added bonus. And then Ceasar says, “Now imagine the miracle that is currently happening. You are a walking universe, filled with energetic channels of light and love and electricity, currently walking on an earth that is in the midst of an even bigger universe.” Whoa. And more where that came from.

Okay, you tell me how a person can remain in a funk while hearing those and many other words during a walk in the rain at the end of a very hot week during which that person mistakenly concluded that she does not know how to paint. At all. Pish-posh. I am a walking universe! And I think painting is included in my universe. Funk lifted.

And then my son calls and says he wants for Christmas TWO of my recent paintings. This makes me very, very happy.

“When I have a creative block, I take walks. I like to see what shapes stick out – so many legs rushing by at once, it can seem abstract. I don’t need to see great art to get stirred up. Music does that for me more easily.” — Caio Fonseca

“If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint, boy, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent van Gogh

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” — Maya Angelou

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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