A Look Inside My Brain

On the most basic level I like painting and I think I’m pretty good at it. On a more complicated level, the idea of working on a painting or answering messages makes me want to crawl into a hole. Even as I’m writing this post, I started it in a Google doc instead of directly into a website post because updating my website is just another thing that makes me anxious.

Let me explain. A lot of people won’t get it. I hope some people will.

I have hangups with making art. A lot of them. When I analyze them I feel like a spoiled brat because so many artists crave and need the amount of work I have sitting in front of me. My list of commissions is over 200 long and it has been sitting like that for years now. The more I think about it the more anxious and overwhelmed I feel. How did I get here? How do I move forward?

Doing the work and acknowledging the people is the only way to stop feeling this way, but it’s scary to me so I avoid all of it. Finishing a painting means I have to start another one and why bother because I will never get them all done. Posting my work on social media means I will get more messages about more paintings and I don’t know what to say to those people.

Mardi Paws 4

I try to motivate myself by reminding myself:

People are waiting. Stop disappointing them.

The animals I’m painting are amazing and beautiful and they deserve to be honored in a painting.

Just do a little painting each day. No pressure. It’s not that hard.

Have an hour or two of office hours at the same time every week.

Only watch TV while I’m painting and not at other times.

We could use the money. There are always vet bills, CrossFit competitions, a car to pay off…

I’m a talented artist and I should use my gifts.


But the thoughts that win are:

Avoid it. Maybe people will just forget.

People don’t get me. I can’t explain myself to them so I will just not try.

Don’t post your work. Then you will just have more messages/people to avoid.

What if I start this painting and it’s no good?

This painting should only take 8 hours to do, but I took 6 months. What a loser.

My studio is going to be too hot so I should just wait until tomorrow.

There’s laundry/food/dishes/dogs to take care of.

I am not a good businessperson and I have no idea what I’m doing.




I don’t know why I’m such a mess when it comes to painting. Somehow I have found a way to be a tortured artist while also having a great demand for my work, all of the tools I need, and time in my day to paint. I feel like I have dug a hole that I can’t get out of so I just don’t even try. It’s a perfectionist mentality I guess.

If you have been where I am and found a way to crawl your way out of it, please tell me what worked for you.

If you have been on my waiting list for a while and you just can’t wait anymore, I get it. I’m sorry. Please let me know.

If you are judging me hard right now I don’t want to hear about it. I have plenty to worry about already.

I want to find a way to do more work and I hope I do, but until then I guess I will just keep doing two paintings a year and finish in about 100 years.

Finally getting this off my chest feels like I accomplished something. Oh wait, but I could have used that time to paint… Here we go again. More thoughts.

IMG_20171217_142346 (1)



3 thoughts on “A Look Inside My Brain

  1. First of all, I love your art! You are amazing!
    Unfortunately, I have no clue about digging your way out of the hole.
    I have the perfectionist mentality, too, but it applies to my writing. I’m also an introvert in an extrovert’s job (teaching), and my day’s “performance” usually zaps my energy and creativity. When I read a book, I frequently think I could do better. But I don’t write. I doubt myself. I would love to write something people will love, quote, and remember, but I don’t.
    Can you cancel the orders to take some of the pressure away, or are you obligated to complete them? Can you just paint what you love and post it for sale when you’re ready? It has to be tough to feel the inspiration you need for painting. Maybe you’re taking the joy out of your art by being overwhelmed.
    Be kind to yourself.

  2. Dear Clara,
    So much of you wrote here resonated with me (as did Mary’s response/comment – good suggestions there). I, too, love what I do but also avoid it like the plague (I’m a writer). I think I’m pretty good at it, yet my blog remains neglected for months at a time (to the point where followers contact me to see if I’m okay), and I have not one, not two, not three, but FOUR books/stories started in various stages of completion (none further than halfway), and a couple of these have been this way for more than a decade. Okay, more than two decades. It’s insidious. I blame the day job (corporate America, 9-5 stuff) but that’s just an excuse and I struggle with it.

    I get this – being creative is hard; no matter how talented we are (and you, my dear, are incredibly talented – I hope your heart/inner self knows this) the creative process can be daunting. We don’t live in a world that honors creatives, either. Our world is very chaotic right now and creativity (and the sensitivity that goes with it) feels undervalued. Art is magic and ethereal and that’s not what our culture espouses.

    So, what’s the solution? I’m going to suggest something to you that I’m doing, that I think will help you immensely. I’ve been wanting to launch my own business for oh, a dozen years now, and still haven’t done that either. So I’m hiring a coach – a life coach – who specializes in my field. And this is what I suggest for you too. Yes, it will cost money at first, but I believe the rewards and growth it will bring will more than pay for it. I know many successful professionals who continue to work with a coach long after they’ve become successful. Because it works.

    Google “artist coach” and see what comes up for you. You want someone who understands the artist mind and creative process (different from the business coach I’m hiring to launch my business). I have worked with a life coach before and it’s incredibly helpful and productive. A professional life coach will break it down for you, give you action steps (even teeny tiny ones to start) and slowly build you back to where the 200 commissions on the wait list can be managed instead of scaring you under the covers and beating yourself up (hey, that’s my M.O.!).

    Blessings and best wishes to you for the solution/outcome that fills you up and feeds your soul.

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