Thirty-in-Thirty: Day Twenty Two

Rattled Birch ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow - 15 x15 - Pastel & Pencil on Paper

Rattled Birch ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 16″ x 16″, Pastel & Pencil on Paper

One of the many things that thirty-in-thirty accomplishes for me is that it forces me to stop seeking perfection in my work. When I’m focused on doing —the process of painting and drawing— and not on expectations, I lose myself. Letting go of my ego —pre-conceived ideas and anticipated outcome— and returning to a sense of joy is the most important part of this exercise. I rediscover why I paint: I paint because it feels good.

Rattled Birch ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow

Rattled Birch ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 16″ x 16″, Pastel & Pencil on Paper

It’s surprising to me, that this rigorous work schedule and focused discipline can bring freedom and happiness —but in my experience, this is absolutely true. The less I think about going into the studio —torturing myself with self criticisms, worrying about whether or not my work is good, or if I am growing as an artist— the happier I am to go into the studio and just work. Just work. Don’t over-think, Michaela. Just work. Let your mind go and the rest will follow. And that is exactly what happens. I just begin to work each day and eventually, even on the days when my mind is a bit noisy, I find my zone —my flow— and suddenly I am filled with happiness. The result of this crazy, daily exercise is that I force myself to paint for the sake of painting itself; to just do it. And lo and behold, all of the obstacles fall away, and I find that work feels like play again.

How awesome is that?

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