The All is Lost Moment


In all Hollywood movies there is an All is Lost moment, where the Hero is as far away from her goal as she possibly can be. It seems impossible that she will ever accomplished what she set out to do. She is lost in the swamp, circled by hundreds of ennemies, broke and alone. And we are holding our breath for that moment when the road will clear, when she will raise her weapon to strike one more time, when she will lift her head and get back up. When the road will open up, when the allies will come running, when her fate will turn around. 

Let's face it, often times, a creative endeavor, be it a painting, a book, a song, a business venture, feels like having all odds stacked against us. It might feel a bit like a "How will Frodo possibly cross all of Mordor to throw the Ring in the fire of the mountain?" (I'm a fan of Lord of the Rings). 

In painting too, there is an All is Lost moment. As with any creative endeavor. There is a moment when the painting, the book, the song, the business, heck, even the diet is not at all going where you want it to go. It doesn't even look remotely like it's supposed to look. It's the moment when you're the most at risk to give up, if you don't hold on to the vision you had when you first started. And hold on even tighter to whatever stubbornness you have. 

When I instruct painting classes, I often see reactions from the painters ranging from disappointment, to embarrassment to frustration at that stage (often minutes before it turns around and they get super happy with their painting). Especially if it's their first time painting, they will stop, look at the painting, sigh and look at me for rescue.  I tell them that there is often a weird stage in any painting and they have to just keep going and trust the process. It's sometimes even more obvious in my Intuitive Painting class, where there is no example to follow, no pre-established steps. The finished painting is somewhere in the ether, waiting to be born, and no one except the painter (and most often not even the painter himself) knows what it looks like before it's done. 

Sometimes the painting doesn't look good at all (whatever looking good might even mean) and it seems like it's never to be recovered. I even surprised myself a couple times doubting that a particular painter's piece would ever turn out ok. I sometimes too forget to have faith in the process, my own or other's. I forget that paintings, like books, songs, poems, or ventures are living entities with an intelligence and a desire to be born in the physical world. They will come and knock on your shoulder and guide you. 

Not everything looks good all the time. In fact most things have "not pretty" to downright ugly stages. Or at least stages where it looks nothing like we wanted it or imagined it to look. Same for relationships. Now more than ever, with social media, we tend to forget that. 

The more we dare doing, the more we learn the necessity to trust the process, keep going, and get over the embarrassment of the "ugly" stages. 

Below, a picture of a new painting I'm working on, in it's "ugly" stage. When it doesn't seems  like it will ever look the way I want it to look. It's especially challenging as it is a portrait, which is outside my comfort zone and requires me to stretch my skills and habits. But the vision came strong and kept coming of this painting that seems to want to be born. So here we are. Again and again.