The Creative Process & the Power of the Pause

Mar 10, 2024

I wanted to share an experience that reminded me of the importance of patience and perspective in the creative process and surrendering to creative flow. For those who don’t know me, on the outside I may seem like a very patient person, but in reality, I am not, especially with myself. 

As an ‘accidental’ artist, I sometimes find myself caught in the intricate dance between inspiration and execution, and occasionally, even the most seemingly straightforward projects can present unexpected challenges. 

It usually happens when I focus too much.

This weekend,  I wanted to paint a colorful abstract figurative piece for our bare white living room wall. I envisioned a blue green sea in which a relaxed, airy woman floated with a beautiful sunset backdrop. The composition came together smoothly, but as I focused on the finer details, I encountered a familiar adversary: the struggle with perfection. Painting her head and hair proved to be particularly irritating.

I kept starting from scratch, unhappy with her face and neck, unsure about the color of her hair—first red, then black—only to find that neither seemed to capture the essence I was striving for. Even the upper body, which initially looked fine, began to feel disconnected with the rest of the canvas.

It's easy to get frustrated, but I know these struggles are part of the creative journey. I don’t see it as failure, but instead as opportunities for growth and exploration.

After several attempts at fixing the painting, I made a decision: to step back and allow both the artwork and myself some breathing room. I painted over the canvas in white, a symbolic act of letting go of preconceived notions of perfection, and set it aside to dry.

Navigating Obstacles

This pause, I've learned, is priceless. It's a chance to recalibrate, reset expectations, and reconnect with the joy of creation. Sometimes it’s better not to force a solution but to trust in the process and allow inspiration to find its way back to us.

As creatives, keep in mind that perfection is not the goal; rather, it's the journey of discovery and expression that matters. It's okay to stumble through obstacles along the way—it's how we navigate them that defines our growth.

So, if you’re mucking around with a stubborn project or feeling discouraged not getting the exact results you want, take a step back and embrace the journey. Trust that your creative flow will return in its own time. Celebrate the beauty of imperfection and the endless possibilities that lie within it.