Last night I was with my friends Noelle and Suzie, both therapists as well as wise, funny, good hearted women.  Suzie has the additional distinction of being an artist carried by several galleries across the country.  I call her my “famous artist friend.”  Suffice it to say when Suzie talks about her creative process, I am all ears. 

We were sitting around the kitchen table when Suzie said,

                “Sometimes I just uncover the palette.” 

                “What do you mean?”  I asked.   

                “It’s like creative coffee.  Just the smell of linseed oil and paint inspires and comforts me.”

Noelle said,

                “I’m like that with my running shoes.”  Noelle is one of those women who could run a marathon and then go out dancing.  My nickname for her is “hummingbird.”

                “What do you mean?”  I asked.    

                “I keep them by the front door and just looking at them reminds me of running,” Noelle said.   “It’s like just looking at the shoes are a reminder of the process of mastery,” Noelle went on to explain. 

Suzie and I nodded:  the paint for her, the computer for me.  We understood.

At one point Noelle was interested in running but was not yet a good runner.   She probably flailed and huffed and puffed like any beginner.  She kept on running until she got better and better.  That’s the development of mastery and it always starts lower than we would like it to. 

Now the shoes themselves serve as a visual reminder for that whole accomplishment, as well as an incentive to keep it up. 

Likewise Suzie was not born a painter but was interested in art.  She painted and kept painting until she became better and better.   Her early art probably did not foretell that in the future her paintings would sell for thousands of dollars, that she would have one-woman shows, that the galleries would court her like a southern debutante. 

Now the smell of paint reminds her of what she loves and keeps her eager to do more of it. 

The development of mastery gets short shrift in many people’s decision making about which creative outlets to explore.  We use our current ability as the litmus test for our future behavior, and in doing so limit our potential. 

How can you avoid this artistic pitfall?  One question to ask is, “What form of creative play would I do if I were guaranteed success?” 

Remember, we’re talking creative play here, not brain surgery.  Your abilities are absolutely not the point.  Engaging your interest and curiosity are. 

Now, go get your supplies.  Leave them lying about.  If your neat nick partner complains, you can blame me.  Go ahead:  Uncover the palette


3 thoughts on “Uncovering the Palette

  1. What’s Suzie’s last name. I’m an art lover and would like to view some of her creativity.

    Ramon, a loyal fan of yours.

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