Sometimes the wayward shrubbery of my mind gets in the damn way


Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a creative bone in my body, or a creative cell in my brain. Not often, but often enough that it can frustrate me horribly.

It’s not so much that I ‘choose’ to create, but that I ‘must’ create. It’s what I do. Pisses me off on bad days. And it can make me loathe whatever project I am working on.

Over the past few days I have been trying to get back to painting. I have done paintings that I think are good. And I have done paintings I think are, frankly, shit. And I have done paintings that during the process I have often loathed, and yet the finished product has turned out agreeably. That is, of course, disregarding the paintings I have literally chucked out over the years.

One painting I have in mind was inspired by the Smith Rock area of central Oregon that we visited a few years ago and of which I took innumerable photographs. It’s truly a dramatic and exciting spot to view with its breathtaking cragginess. It was inspiring, to say the least and I could hardly wait to get home to do a painting that captured the impact of the many scenes.

And so I got home. And so I sat down at my easel and got my paints and brushes out and, after I had chosen a photo I wanted to capture, I went to work. And I worked and I worked and as time went on and things didn’t unravel the way I wanted them to I came to loathe the painting more and more. I wanted to scrap it on endless occasions. It wasn’t ‘speaking’ to me. I know ‘speaking’ sounds fatuous, but I can think of no other term that tells me when something is working right – working smoothly.

DSCN0296For example I have a couple of paintings that virtually painted themselves. One is titled Molokai Dawn and the other is Kauai at Dusk (Pictured) both inspired by scenes I photographed on our Hawaiian cruise of a couple of years ago. They were so easy and were, to me, quite effective in capturing what I wanted to capture. They ‘spoke’ to me.

And then there was goddamn Smith Rock. I labored, and cast it aside, labored and cast it aside. “I hate it,” I often exclaimed to Wendy in despair. She encouraged me to persevere, protesting that she liked it. It was ‘speaking’ to her.

What I had been doing, vainly, was trying to capture a photographic image of the scene. And then I chucked that and went a bit surrealistic. Damn it, it worked! For me, finally, it spoke.

It’s a relatively big painting and it has a place of prominence in our dining room. I like it. I could almost argue that it’s my favorite painting. You might not like it at all, but as long as I like it, that’s what counts.

And that is thanks to Wendy for encouraging me to persevere.

Damn creativity sometimes hides behind the shrubbery of my own mind – and expectations.


7 responses to “Sometimes the wayward shrubbery of my mind gets in the damn way

  1. Sometimes what your brain recalls and what you have on a photo isn’t at all the same thing. And that’s perfectly OK. After all, you HAVE the photo, what’s important is to let your interpretation of it come out. Sometimes, the two don’t have all that much in common. You gotta stop over thinking everything Ian!

  2. I love it. But I know what you mean about work “speaking” to you. I’m trying to write a script that needs to be ready by the end of the month. I think I have actually ground my back teeth right down from the frustration of not being able to get it right. It feels so trite, so unnatural and that is so unlike me as dialogue is what I do. I’m good at it. Maybe it’s because I know money is at stake but I think I too am overthinking it. Perhaps I should just breathe
    By the way, I didn’t realise it had been so long since my last visit but the upside of that is that I have had a lovely morning so far catching up on all your posts xx

    • So nice that you came to call. Have missed you. And I can fully empathise with what you are going through re your project. I still, despite a lifetime’s work in the field go through creative agonies with a freelance piece I have been commissioned to do. I was wondering, by the way, if you happened to be on Facebook. Would love to connect with you at that level. Please let me know.

  3. I shall check on FB

  4. Couldn’t find it so maybe email me at

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