Turn your brain off

Picasso said "If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes." 

When I am painting, I try to turn my brain off and use only my hands. The danger of using my brain is becoming overly worried about painting "right"  or messing up. Usually that kind of thinking stops creativity and leads to lifeless paintings.

Finished Bolivia, Flamingo Lake Painting. 18 x 24 inches watercolor on hot press paper.  Finished Bolivia, Flamingo Lake Painting. 18 x 24 inches watercolor on hot press paper. 

Most of the time this is no problem for me, but on my last commission it was really tripping me up and I kept second guessing myself. Part of the reason was the painting required a tight turn around and I knew if something bad happened, I wouldn't have time to start over. Towards the end of the painting, I kept asking myself what I should do after every brush stroke. Will this make it better or worse? Should I keep painting? It was rough! I couldn't move forward because I was scared to touch the paper.

Beginning sketch Beginning sketch

Then I remembered a professor once told me, if you have a favorite part of your painting, paint over it. Don't get too attached to your work and forget to have fun and take risks. That is where the joy and energy in painting happens. I gave up on having the perfect sky and the perfect painting and I made some big (hard to reverse) marks. Having them there freed me to take more risks and begin playing again. Once I covered my favorite part of the painting, I wasn't worried about making everything around it as good as that one part. I was energized to turn my brain off and have fun. 

Wondering what to do about the sky.  Wondering what to do about the sky.

Of course the result is that the painting was better for it and in the end the sky was better than it was before I took a risk on it.

Here is another Picasso quote to wrap up the thought. “The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.” Let go of your ideas about what it is supposed to be and just do it!


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