Philosophy of the blank canvas

All creative types recognise the fear of a blank paper or canvas. The question arises with the fear of what to write or paint.

For me, a painting is a commitment to making something, to create, to build. However, it’s troubling that, as creative types, we’re never quite sure precisely what to create or how it will turn out. Worse still, we often feel we’re facing this riddle alone. It’s this uncertainty where the fear resides. There is no one over my shoulder telling me what to paint. All the responsibility is mine; that’s not easy.

Self-expression on canvas, paper, dance, and music is complex and mysterious; it forces us to turn inward and discover what we want to say and how to say it. These answers are challenging to find, so creativity is often a struggle.

Art is very personal and exposes us as vulnerable and imperfect. The fear of self-expression, the reception to our art, and what direction we want to go. What matters most is what we care about, our values, and who we are as a person. All the questions about life and living in the space between us and the canvas.

The blank canvas is symbolic of the journey artists go through. To face the canvas is to speak up and say something others might respond to. To get noticed, make some noise or voice a position others might find nonsensical, stupid, or expressed before.

The blank canvas is in the here and now; what we did before or will do no longer matters when we are on the canvas. The canvas is a liminal place of desire and potential between where we are and want to be. The past is unchangeable, the future is to be seized, and here we are in the moment in between.

Our hopes, dreams and fears live in the potential of a non-existent painting. 

To face this and keep going is the test that never stops for creative types. Our life is the canvas we paint on, the people we connect to, the work we do, the ideas we entertain.

To face the unknown of the blank canvas is to find yourself, to make yourself in each moment, each work of art. Each stroke, each word, each blog post or book adds flesh to your life and hopefully the lives of others. Until art becomes life, life becomes an art.

All the uncertainty, the longing, the hopes fulfilled and hopes dashed, each step, each blank canvas, is a life being lived.

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