Going against the grain

Because I’ve been painting longer than I have been writing, I often use my experience as a painter to help understand my experience as a writer.

A few weeks ago, I said I was chucking the towel in on being ‘an author’. I didn’t want to stop writing or publishing, but I did want to take pressure off my creativity. I thought needed a break. So I took one.

I picked up more hours at the day job, pulled out of markets, and withdrew from social media for a while.

At the NZ Book Festival, I spoke with Liz Constable of Book Art Studios, whose book-making workshop Dyed and Gone to Heaven I had attended the previous weekend. We discussed how sometimes it’s better to go against what we’re ‘supposed’ to do, and just do what feels right.

I realised that perhaps me throwing in the towel wasn’t me needing to take a break, but was really me just saying:

I don’t want to do it your way.

After highschool, I went to art school. It didn’t take long for me to realise it wasn’t right for me, but I stuck it out for a couple of months in fear of becoming a ‘quitter’ (I’ve since learned that changing your mind is not the same as failure). For a few years after withdrawing from the course, I didn’t paint. It was just last year that I really started to paint again, and this time I was only painting for me. I wasn’t trying to follow someone else’s rules, or prove anything to myself.

what you don't know

‘What you don’t know’, acrylic on canvas, 2015 (not for sale)

I was just letting go.

The interesting bit is that when I let myself do what I wanted, people responded more and resonated more with my work. I discovered the paradox – that the more personal my work became, the more universally it was understood.

So I guess from here the lesson is to keep exploring inwards, keep experimenting, and trust that my work will find its audience

in its own way,

in its own time.


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