Sunday, August 27, 2017

Getting Feedback

BTW 9  Oil/mixed media on paper  12x12" © 2017 Janice Mason Steeves

BTW 7 Oil/mixed media on paper 12x12"  © 2017Janice Mason Steeves

In my last blog post, I wrote about how difficult it's been to get into my studio after a very long hiatus. I debated whether I'd write that blog post because it felt like I'd be showing all my vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Maybe not the smartest thing to do as a painter of over 30 years and as an art teacher and coach. When I'd finished writing it, and my finger hovered over the word "Publish", I thought of these things. Much debating went on in my head in that hovering, the inner critic's voice being most negative of all.

BTW 2 Oil/mixed media on paper 12x12"  © 2017 Janice Mason Steeves

I'm so grateful to have pushed the "Publish" button. I received many beautiful personal emails written by people who had recently been through periods of personal illness, or members of their family had, and they had become the caretakers of those family members. Others wrote with similar stories about being pulled out of their studios and their creativity by life events. Like me, they worried that their creativity had dried up, never to return.

Many others offered advice. Some sent personal emails, some posted on Facebook, some made comments on my blog. Amazingly, much of the advice was the very advice I'd given my students when they went through dry periods. In fact some of my students wrote offering me my advice back!!! Ha! I guess I needed to hear it reflected back to me.

And others wrote to tell me just to be patient, that I'd gone through two big operations and I needed time to heal. They assured me that creativity was in my blood and my very makeup and that it couldn't possibly dry up.

One friend who is a well-known Canadian writer, wrote to tell me that she is also in a period of stasis. She suggested an exchange: that by Wednesday of this past week, she would send me two paragraphs that she'd written and that I send her a small painting or the beginnings of a larger one.

BTW 4  Oil/mixed media on paper 12x12"  © 2017 Janice Mason Steeves

Ahhh, I'm so grateful to have received all of these touching emails. Every one said something I needed to hear. I especially loved the exchange idea.

BTW 5   Oil/mixed media on paper 12x12"  © 2017 Janice Mason Steeves

All in all, the responses energized me. It's as though a weight was lifted from my shoulders, as though I didn't have to bear this burden alone. But of course I do. It just felt as though I had some wind beneath my wings (to steal an image from a famous song). Soon afterward, I got back into my studio to work. I am working without thinking at whatever the hell I feel like working on.

"MY DEAL WITH THE CREATOR IS THIS: I'm dragging a sack of old worries, hurt, anger, doubt and fear up a long hill trying to get to the other side, to relief, to healing.

CREATOR SAYS: 'If you need a hand, I'm here. You pull and I'll push.'

I SAY: 'Really?'

CREATOR SAYS: ' I promise that I will always be there to help you. But there's a catch.'

I SAY: 'What's the catch?'

CREATOR SAYS: 'You have to pull first.'"

                                                      Richard Wagamese from the book, Embers


  1. Happy to hear that you're back and running!!!xxx

    1. Thanks Sylvia. And now I'm getting ready to teach a workshop in Iceland. That will also get me back in the groove!

  2. All I did was going to my homecountry of Norway for 2 weeks after 11 years away, loving every moment, but loving coming back to the US - but oh, how difficult it has been getting back to painting again! I hope to get to talk to you in end of October for the shared workshop - and Iceland will give you the fantastic images you need to get back in the groove!

    1. Hi Telise. You're probably filled with images and emotions from your trip to Norway. It'll take some time to process those. No worries. You'll get back to work when you have.