Commitment

I was sitting in the garden recently, on one of the days following writing my last blog post on Vulnerability, ironically feeling vulnerable.  

I had written out something that felt profoundly private and not kept it to myself. It felt hard to sit with that knowledge and not delete my blog post. But I drank my hot cuppa out there under the bright sunshine, and committed to leaving my post where it was. Even though I felt the vulnerability, fear and self-doubt rise up in waves, I committed to not silencing myself.




 And I started to think about Commitment.

What commitment might be.  What it might look like. When we need it.  How we give it. Who we give it to.

And what we might be, unwittingly, committed to.

When I sit down to paint, I am thoroughly intimidated by the white canvas, the blank page, the wide open space of nothingness that I'm hoping to fill.

Every. Single. Time.



I want to turn away. To not take the risk of getting things wrong. To not mess up. I want to step back from the edge (of my desk). No matter how much I paint, this experience of doubt just before I paint, never leaves me.

For years I was afraid to paint.  I had images in my head of how I wanted my paintings to look, but my skills didn't match my imagination.  The gap between where I wanted to be and where I was, seemed too painfully large.



It filled me with disappointment and frustration that I couldn't create what I wanted to create. It hurt to not be able to recreate what my heart was seeing.

I had huge doubts about my abilities.

Eventually, I reached a place where it hurt more not to try.

Without even realising it, I had been committed to not failing. And in doing so, had cost myself dearly.

So, I finally said "Fuck doubt".





Each time I sit down to paint, I have to say loud and clear, "Fuck doubt".

I have to choose what I want to be committed to. Not failing by never trying. Or, trusting.

There's huge commitment involved in the process of painting.

A commitment to trust myself.

Before I paint, my head is filled with noise, and self-doubt.

When I paint, my head becomes silent and my heart takes over.  I know it sounds strange but I don't know of any other way to describe it.  The worries, fears, niggling thoughts, and constant mind chatter are all silenced and instead I can only hear what my instinct is telling me to do.





I trust that instinct completely.  It has never let me down.  I might be afraid to follow it at times, but I follow it all the same.

This week during the process of painting a portrait, this instinct told me the eyes, nose, and mouth I had just painstakingly completed weren't right and needed to go. Did I tell you it was a portrait?

***

They're not right, Em, they've got to go.

Really?

Really.

But if I white them out, I won't have much of a portrait left.... What if I can't paint them in again as well as I just did?

It will be better. Trust me. I promise you. White them out. Get rid of them. Daub gesso all over them. Obliterate them. Go on.  Do it. DO IT!

Sh*t.  Really?

Really.

OK, I'm doing it.  Oh. sh*t, I'm doing it.

***

For me, the only thing more frightening than a blank canvas, when painting, is making parts of the canvas blank again after I've started filling it.



Commitment is a strange thing, isn't it?

It can be terrifying.

But in making a commitment, we can find something in ourselves we didn't know we had.

It felt scary to follow my instinct and paint over the features, to whiten them out.  To erase what I'd already done.

But each time I paint, I'm making a commitment to myself.  To follow my heart. To follow my instinct.  To trust that quiet but powerful voice inside me that knows what I need to do.  That guides me through.  That helps me be sure about which way I need to go.

And each time I commit to listening to that voice, and hearing what it tells me, I get better at painting. Making that commitment helps me find something new within myself, I didn't know was there. Making a commitment to myself moves me beyond doubt into something concrete, known and beautiful.



I was chatting to someone this week who said that the blank canvas, and painting, are powerful metaphors for life, and I think he is right.

We may not know how to fill the canvas, whether we have the skills to create what we want to create, or whether we will make a mistake and mess it all up, but when we step to the edge and commit to following our instinct, following the peaceful, powerful voice inside us, we grow.

Whether that's when we paint, or when we're doing Life.

With love to you as you step to the edge.


P.S. This is my latest painting.  She's called "Michelle". Mixed-media on watercolour paper. Inspired by the art of Annie Hamman

7 comments

  1. art is everything, not posh art for elites and intellectuals but for Life. I nve read a book by a man called May and it was called "The Courage to Create" and that is what is required. Well said Emma

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    1. Thanks Jeannie, I will look that book up and enjoy reading it. And I agree with you, art is everything.

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  2. I love this post Emma. So much truth and I'm reading it at the perfect time. Someone asked me to cover a yoga class for them today. I really didn't want to because it's been a very long time since I taught an adult class and I had a whole story in my head about not being prepared/ not enough time / better things to do etc. I tried to give the class to another teacher but that didn't work. So I'm doing it. I'm committed to growth and to be of service. So best I get my little Lycra clad legs to the studio and do my job. Thank you! ❤️

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    1. Hey you, I'm glad you got your little lycra clad legs to the studio and got to give the gift of you to all those others. They are lucky indeed to have you. Sending you massive love, Beautiful.

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  3. I love this post Emma❤️ And Michelle is absolutely stunning❣ It was so interesting to read about your painting process and how it works for you. I can so relate, because each time I stare at a blank page I too am filled with fear and doubt - Every.Single.Time. - that I won't be able to get the thoughts from my head onto the page, no one will want to read it anyway, yada yada yada. And so each time it does require stepping to the edge. i am so happy you have made the commitment to step to the edge and create - because your works of art are truly a gift of joy and beauty - and my world would be less without them.

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    1. Terry, you are such a gift to me and I'm so glad to have you as a friend. Thank you for your lovely comments about my painting. It's good to know we're stepping to the edge together to fill in the blanks... My world would be less without your friendship.

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    2. What an incredibly sweet thing to say Emma! I too treasure our friendship and the gift of YOU it brings to my world!

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