Don’t Get Caught Up in the Details

How many times do you see a job description: looking for detailed oriented, multi-faceted worker?   It’s a definition of pretty much every corporate job description and requirement.   It’s actually a good thing to pay attention to detail and focus on the little things in a customer service environment.  However, this mentality becomes ingrained in our psyche.  We tend to focus and dwell on the little details of everything that pertains to our daily lives.   Our focus becomes so great it truly prevents us from going forward through our process, and we become halted, frozen and unable to complete simple tasks.  The tiny details erupt into a bigger context of focus and eventually fear.

I find when I teach, many new creatives bring this mentality to their creative process.   They get caught up in painting a tree with every branch, leaf and small detail associated with it.   They approach a landscape searching for every detail or a mixed media abstract piece mapping out where and when they will apply their marks.   I say, “STOP and let go.”  Forget that you are painting a tree or landscape and replace these mind tricks into just breaking your subjects into simple large shapes.  Don’t think about every blade of grass or fallen leaf on the ground.   You don’t have to paint every grain of sand or every tree in the forest.   Sure there are many artists that painstakingly do this, but YOU DON’T HAVE TO.     A great painting gives the impression that something exists whether it’s a realistic interpretation or completely abstract.  You allow the viewer to visualize the scene.  Giving them the roadmap through color and brushstroke.

Allowing yourself to focus on the bigger picture, allows the anxiety/inner critic to calm itself and you can just focus on creating.    In my pastel and oil landscapes, I will usually start with a quick sketch in burnt sienna of my subject.   I get a big brush and let loose on the canvas, navigating where I want my big shapes to go and emphasizing areas where my darks and my lights will go.   I am just energizing my canvas, getting rid of the blank white screen and creating a simple foundation.   I won’t get into my details til the very end of the painting.   For my abstract paintings, I follow a simple energy activating exercise I learned from a fellow favorite artist, Flora Bowley.   She explains the concept of “activating the canvas”  Allowing quick movement, sound, feeling and whatever feels good at that moment to dictate the beginning.    I love this concept because it allows you to just let it happen and not spend countless hours thinking about what to put on the canvas – you just do it.


However you approach your creative process, I feel the less you think about it the better.   Trusting your process and allowing it to be nourished freely allows your art to bloom outward with feeling and inner soul.     You will occasionally step back and say “did I do that” or “how did this happen.”  Like your favorite TV artist, Bob Ross said, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.  You just can’t mess up.  You can cover it up, expand upon your creativity or continue to let it grow.   There will be spots and periods in which you are feeling the flow and areas that just aren’t working.  Encourage yourself to build on what’s working and change those things that are not.   I will leave areas in my oil paintings til the very end because I just can’t seem to get it where it needs to be.   It’s ok.   If I look at the bigger picture those areas will eventually create themselves.

So don’t get caught up in the details, open your heart and let go.  Trust YOUR process and let it happen.   Collect visual imagery of your favorite artists, art, photos, etc. and post these up around your creative space for inspiration.   Remember there are no rules and don’t let anyone – artist or not – tell you otherwise.

Are you interested in learning my process and changing the way you approach your art and creative process? Sign up for my very first online course “Artful Inspirations: Floral Abstracts” to see how I approach my abstract floral series.  Better yet, ITS FREE!!!!!

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