Creating without resistance or attachment

While leafing through a sketchbook earlier today, I came across this drawing that I made in January. It took me by surprise because I have no memory of having made it. I drew it and then moved through, creating without resistance or attachment.

graphite drawing, self portrait

I didn’t criticize it or question why I did it. I didn’t analyze or look for mistakes.

And this may be the most important part to me- I also didn’t share it (until now). I didn’t post it on Facebook or on Instagram and then wait for validation. In fact, I don’t even care whether this drawing is any good – it was just something I simply did as a matter of course during my regular day. And this is how I like it to be.

a mundane activity

I like it best when art-making is part of my regular routine, like brushing my teeth, eating breakfast, and taking a walk. I try to treat it with no less importance – but also no more importance –  than other daily tasks. Drawing or painting doesn’t always have to be a big production; I don’t want it to be too special. I want to move through it.

I am usually most satisfied with drawings and paintings that are created with little fanfare. These are the paintings that were done during a lunch break from my former day job, or the drawings I did in the morning when I had an hour, or a painting I did on a scrap of canvas I had laying around. Even when I work for longer periods of time, I enjoy the process more when I don’t try to hold onto it too tightly. It helps me take risks when I paint and not be too worried about the final result.

trying too hard

But lately, the anxious part of me has been resisting a lot and is having trouble not getting too attached to the outcome. Why?

I recently made more time in my life for painting, but I’ve been pushing myself to paint too much, and I’ve been sharing a lot through this blog and social media. I’ve been over-thinking, which for me is a path to paralysis and certainly not good creative experiences. And I’ve been letting other opinions and voices influence me.

To put it simply, I’ve been trying too hard.

being a conduit

All of this new activity is interfering with my usual intuitive process and creative flow. I believe that all of us creatives are meant to be conduits but I haven’t been doing it so well lately- perhaps because “doing” is an act of interference.

And so this leads me to ask – how do I actively try not to actively try? How do I clear out the filter, so to speak, to get back to creating without resistance or attachment?

mindset – awareness

I am the first to admit that I haven’t yet mastered the art of mindfulness or meditation; that I have not yet figured out how to quiet my racing mind. But I find that things flow better when I am able to:

  • Recognize when I am over-thinking and do what I can to let racing thoughts pass without settling in.
  • Accept the self-critical, self-blaming voice as part of me but not give it too much attention.
  • Remember that thoughts are just thoughts and that they are not necessarily true.
  • Be open to what comes, even if it’s not what I expected or thought I wanted.
  • Listen for the voices and opinions of others when they run through my mind so I can keep them in the background.
  • Trust myself and the process above all else.

methods – non-action

When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.

Tao Te ching

There are also some specific ways of doing things that – when practiced regularly- help me paint more joyfully, which ultimately leads me to becoming a better painter. I try to:

  • Treat painting and drawing just like any other daily activity so that it doesn’t feel like a special event. It helps that I keep my materials and setup simple.
  • Avoid long painting sessions if I am overly-tired or anxious. Yes, sometimes it’s good to paint even when you don’t feel like it, but not always. There is a time for rest.
  • Resist sharing everything on social media. I keep some drawings and paintings private and never share them at all.
  • Put aside drawings and paintings for a little while before I analyze them. And some I won’t analyze at all. It’s important to develop a self-critical eye, but not at every moment.
  • Wipe out or erase freely.
  • Talk less about what I am doing. That doesn’t fit so well with this blog idea, but I will keep it in check.

These ways of thinking and actions (or non-actions) take time to cultivate, and I can’t say I have it all figured out. I am working on it (though not too hard).

My wish for you today is that you are able to create without resistance or attachment. Thank you for reading.


5 thoughts on “Creating without resistance or attachment

  1. Tracy, I am so taken with your writing and art. I found you through the Winslow Art Center. I am taking Majorie Hicks online figure workshop in June. I looked into the the other online classes offered and there you were. Your blog posts are putting words to my own rambling thoughts. As far as mindful meditation, I took me a while to a let it over take my thoughts and found relief from the never ending brain bending. I was introduced to it by a neurologist after surgery. It reduces tension and headaches like a charm…. I am communicating with a friend of mine in Texas about you. We both will probably be on your list of students.

    1. Hi, Charlene, Thank you for your kind words and thoughts about my painting and writing. I’m glad you’re finding something you can connect with here. I’d love to meet you and your friend in the online class, if that works out for you! If not, no worries – you can always find me here, and hopefully I’ll be teaching more in the future. Kindly, Tracy

      1. You are very welcome Tracy. I am not a professional painter, and am always learning and evolving. I am currently a Patron for two artists, one is an abstract figure painter, Stanka Kordic, and the other is a pastel artist Karen Margulis. I am a patron to their Patreon pages to help me loosen up my work. My preferred subject matter is portraits/figures. Although, during this shutdown I have spent a lot more time in my garden. I have never been a floral painter. I seem to be on the path to another option for my garden flowers with your workshop. I will sign up today.

        1. Ah, that’s where I know you from – Stanka’s Patreon channel. I am also a supporter of hers and think she’s incredible and so generous. I can’t promise that we’ll talk too much about flowers during the class, but most likely, they’ll make an appearance since I love painting them so much. I also continue to learn and to evolve… I don’t think I will ever stop. And my feeling is that painting skills translate to any subject (though of course there are certain aspects that are subject-specific). I wish I had several lifetimes to learn it all.

  2. It can be a SMALL WORLD at times. Being involved with Stanka’s Patreon Page from its inception has been very rewarding, though not in the sense I intended it be. I have yet to put into practice what she is demonstrating. Her work journey amazes me and her videos always bring laughter and thought provoking sentiment. Maybe your workshop will add a bit of practical to my deer in the headlights when I even think about doing something so wild. I have read the overview of your workshop. I just assumed it would on florals. After receiving your reply I am puzzled. I am intermediate with drawing and painting. Is this offering for beginner basics? Do you have list you can send for supplies. I am sure I have everything, but it is always good to check. Please send it directly to my email if you do. Thanks, all signed up and ready for next Friday.

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