The Empty Canvas

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The empty canvas

“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”
–Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Last night, an artist friend came for dinner and saw the blank canvas that’s been propped on my easel all week. “Oh, you’ve started a new painting!” she said. We laughed.

“Yeah,” I said, “it’s in that wonderful stage of endless possibilities.”

“Well, at least you know for sure what you’re committed to. Now it’s bound to happen.”

And she’s right!

When I’m between paintings and unsure what to paint next, I often hang a big blank canvas in my living room, in addition to the one I put on the easel. The barren space has its own appreciable presence, but also serves as a reminder that the stakes aren’t really so high–I only have to create something that contributes more to the atmosphere than 1) nothing, or 2) a large white rectangle.

That’s usually enough to get me going again.


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