This edition of Iterations was originally going to be about words, but at the moment, I’m pretty far down that rabbit hole and I think I need to root around a bit more before I come out the other side. Instead, let’s talk about barriers — specifically the barriers that we put up around us that stand between making and shipping and not doing anything. The little voices that gnaw at us, making us wonder “what if I don’t have the right camera? What if I don’t have the right pencil? The right brush? The right notebook? The right website? The right hammer?” Guess what, gang, you have exactly the right camera, the right pencil, the right brush, the right notebook and most of the time, there is no right hammer. There’s just a hammer. So pick that thing up and bust up those barriers because the barriers are a lie. What you (read: we) really have is fear. Fear that what you do with those tools will be shit, that it won’t be liked, commented on or that it will be ignored completely. Spoiler: so what? Remember what Gary Busey calls fear? False Evidence Appearing Real. Did Picasso paint for likes? No. He painted because he had to, because it fed his soul. And I know this because he said “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Sure, he sold his art so he could eat (and drink). But he made his art so he could live.

I’ve been working on building out a new studio in my basement off and on since we moved in — more off than on, frankly — and some days thinking through all of the variables really kicks my ass. I’m trying to design work tables and a vertical easel and all sorts of tools to help make my art. The problem is, I’m spending more time thinking about the tools than I am making art. The tools — in this case, the tables and the easel — are my barriers. Sure, on one hand, these are real physical problems that need to be solved, but on the other, am I overthinkinking the whole thing? In an effort to get myself off the hamster wheel of overthinking, I’ve started doing Instagram Live paint sessions in the laundry room. No fancy work tables or easels, just a piece of cardboard under an awful fluorescent shop light and my iPhone to capture the process. I don’t even use real substrates; I just use printer paper that I coat with gesso. But the beauty is, I make. It’s practice. It’s meditation. It’s play, not work (which we’ll talk about next time) and it feeds that desire to create something from nothing, even if that something is rubbish. I’m sure I’ll figure out a solution for the tools, but in the meantime, my hands are in motion putting paint to surface. Make. Smile. Repeat.

What are some of your barriers and what are you doing to get past them?
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How did Claude Monet go from being denied credit and living off potatoes in 1868 to become the world’s most expensive living artist by selling a single canvas to a Japanese tycoon for 800,000 francs in 1922? Read this fascinating essay by Ross King to find out.

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