Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Rest from the Noise

Okay, it's been a while since I've posted and I'm going to be vulnerable with you.

I've had a lot of noise in my life lately. There is, of course, literal noise, such as the little voice from the back seat that calls me out when my mind begins to wander and says, "Mommy, you need to talk to me!" and who requires 3-year-old conversations throughout the day about puzzles and rain boots and Dora the Explorer. I don't mind that noise - it is a sweet time right now and oh so fleeting. But I will admit that when I'm in the car by myself I shut off the radio and soak up the silence.

No... the loudest noise in my life has been coming from within. It manifests itself in an insipid string of lies that speak to me in the first person, saying, "You're not doing this right. No one really likes your work. You must not be cut out for this. You're failing as an artist and a mom. You're a terrible friend. All these things you're doing - teaching workshops, acting like you know anything about anything... you're a fraud." I could keep going but I don't want to depress you.

Anyone else experience that terrible inner noise? That voice that won't leave you alone, that constantly undermines your confidence and your motivation to keep striving? 

Well, I've dealt with it most of my life. But I've been reading a book lately (another recommendation from my wise and dear friend Linda), that is helping me to decipher the clutter and open up room in my mind for God to breathe fresh life into my art and everyday activities. With His help I can learn not just to ignore the noise, but banish it for good. The book is called "Unseen: the Gift of Being Hidden in a World that Loves to be Noticed," by Sara Hagerty. The title alone made me uncomfortable at first. I mean, my whole vocation revolves around being "seen". I'm an artist. My work is meant to be noticed, considered, appreciated, acquired. My life too, has become public because so much of it is rooted in this thing that I do, this gift that I share with the world. And my personality type (I'm an INFJ and an Enneagram 3; look it up!)... well, this just reinforces why it's so hard for me to let go of both my inner thoughts and my public image. Claude Monet was very concerned with his audience's perception of him. The same man who described his water lily paintings as a "haven of peace" is also known to have slashed or kicked holes through hundreds of them in his rage over the work not meeting his standards. I haven't resorted to violence toward my art yet... but I can relate.

I'm beginning to realize that "hidden-ness", though very hard to attain in this day and age, is something I desperately need more of in order to be grounded in my personal life and in order to continue making art that matters. My natural impulse is to communicate what I'm thinking and feeling as directly as I can, because it feels good to let it out, and to find others who relate to my experiences (hello? Isn't that why we enjoy all those likes and comments on social media?).  But as I grow older and [hopefully] wiser I am hiding more things in my heart.

The constant demands of inner and outer noise often rob me of my purest moments for creation. I began to unknowingly grapple for peace this past summer every time I retreated to the mountains to hike and paint. I thought I was getting a good workout and hopefully a good painting, but the more I cared, the less satisfied I was with my results. On the few days when I retreated to the quiet landscape, with a mind that was actually open to my Creator's prompting (even if there was still some noise -- the key was to be open), I came back truly refreshed in my spirit, and it didn't matter whether or not my painting had turned out. My soul was fed.

So my goal for the next few months is to enter a season of rest (yes, even with the holidays approaching!). Less self-inflicted pressure, more openness to creative possibilities. Less noise, more quiet listening and meditation. I think it's important that quiet hidden-ness becomes a regular part of everyday life. For artists especially -- if we don't slow down, we will burn out.

My husband wisely planned a vacation for just the two of us this past month. He knew that if we were only gone 4 or 5 days, we wouldn't truly decompress. So we spent 9 days in Maui... and it took at least the first half of the trip to really unplug and let go of our regular performance-driven habits. As I relaxed, I felt less pressure to paint, and so I painted better. The letting go of expectations gave me greater freedom to enjoy the beauty of my surroundings.  This, I think, was a good first step. I hope I can carry this new mindset into everyday life as I return to responsible adulthood here in Colorado.

Below are some of my paintings from Maui. I lived in a swimsuit all week and gorged myself on seafood. It was healing. I hope these paintings inspire some of the peace I felt while making them.

Above: 8x8", painted on location at Ho'Okipa Beach. 

Above/Below: 6x8", sunset at Ho'Okipa Beach

Above/Below: 10x8", Wailuku, HI. 

Above/Below: 8x6", moonrise over Kihei, at Kamaole Beach Park III.

All paintings are available. Email me at if interested! :-)



  1. I am Plagued by self doubt constantly but am so surprised that an accomplished artist at your level would ever doubt her abilities. I love your work. Thanks for sharing

    1. The struggle is real! :-) Thankfully I don't let it stop me from painting.

  2. In all things, you are an inspiration - your strength and wisdom an example for all.

  3. Do you know the Prado Museum in Madrid? During the month of April will be conducting an auction of works of different artists of the XXI century as Gabino Amaya Cacho, JoaquĆ­n Agrasot and French Agramunt, in addition to many others. You are cordially invited to participate and visit the facilities. Regards!


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