My Favorite Quotes About Creativity and Motivation

4:10 PM

Last night I was thinking about this upcoming Thanksgiving. Alex and I are going to be in California with my family which is always wonderful. I have at least a hundred old, old paintings of mine down in my studio there at my parent's house, and I was in particular thinking about those painting last night. I'm excited to see them all again. They're just full of nostalgia and sentiment, and I'm just that kind of person that enjoys that sort of thing.

I started to laugh at the memory of some of those old paintings though. For example, "Cake Face" is a portrait I worked on for days, and as the name suggests, after so many layers of paint, poor technique (I was 12 years old) and a severely neglected photo reference, the portrait began to look more like a frosted cake than a portrait. Actually it's kind of terrifying.

Another painting there is a rooster in a loft part of a barn. Let's call it "Fan of Feathers." I had some photo reference, but I got very carried away with the roosters tail feathers that after a few days of work and one night painting very early into the morning the rooster's tail feathers made him look more like a white, majestic peacock sitting on a throne of golden strings than a rooster sitting on hay. Those tail feathers are full of pastel colors! And I'm pretty sure they take up more than 3/4 of the canvas. YIKES. 

The real juice of this story is that as I was thinking about those old paintings I felt really grateful for every painting I've had the blessing of painting. And I really do consider each one a blessing. Of course, I've had my number of successful and unsuccessful, but I know that without having painted those crazy cake face portraits (because you know it's not just the one I mentioned earlier) and without the paintings that ended up in the trash that I'll never see again (including one from last month,) I wouldn't be able to pick up the brush again today and be confident in decisions I make while painting and I wouldn't be on the road to becoming the artist that I want to be.  

I feel grateful that I haven't looked at all the unsuccessful paintings I've done and taken to heart that, "wow, I really cannot paint!" because I have said that at times--but I just haven't taken it to heart. I just keep trying. And maybe that makes me crazy, but Van Gogh was pretty crazy too ;) and he said, "If you hear a voice inside you that says 'you cannot paint' then by all means paint!" 

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk Happiness, Your Heritage brought me to tears the first time I heard it. I was thinking about this last night too. Those first words, if I watch the Mormon Message adapted from his talk, still give me chills regardless of having watched it at least a dozen times: "The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul... Everyone can create." But I especially love the part where he says "remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. . . your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination." To me I read this as a sure knowledge that Heavenly Father is on our side!! He's made us. We are meant to create! And no matter what it is you create (for me it's my paintings, but maybe for you it's as simple as creating a smile on another face by cheering them up) we are fully capable.

My last thought on this: I had a quote on my studio wall for years. It was transferred on a piece of wood in black and white with an image of brushes in the background. It read, "the art is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without the work." How true is that? We all are given gifts and talents in some way or another (refer to Elder Uchtdorf's talk,) but those gifts are nothing unless we put the work into them to develop them and use them. I think this is another reason that I feel so grateful for every painting I've been blessed to paint; it's because in that collection of both successes and failures lay a ledger of work and effort that I can look back on and be motivated by. And isn't the simplest form of motivation a blessing in itself, too? 

Thanks for reading my thoughts, as scattered as they may be. I would love to hear your thoughts on these quotes. What do they mean to you? Feel free to comment below.

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