keep going

fuchsias, fuchsia flowers

Keep going. I've been working on creating some mantras and "keep going" has to be included in my list. I say it to myself all the time when I'm painting. Sometimes a painting goes well from beginning to end, but sometimes a painting starts out horribly (or at least in my mind). I know I've written about this before and it still holds true. In Natalie Goldberg's book Living Color she writes about being committed to finishing every piece of writing and how that practice spilled over into her painting practice as well:

Quitting in the middle of a writing exercise reinforced my internal critic, who said that I couldn't do it, or it was boring, or I was lost. But continuing to write -- finishing -- weakened my fear, my doubt, my disbelief in myself... When I painted, I heard a voice calling from some far distant place: Finish that painting, even though you're certain it doesn't look right. Do it now. No whining.

This idea was in the back of my mind as I sketched and planned and painted this week. It also made me think of a character in one of Martha Grimes' books. Ellen Taylor (in The Horse You Came in On) is a novelist who has to chain herself to her desk, cover up the clock on the wall with a scarf and set an alarm clock she hides in a filing cabinet drawer in order to "keep going" with her writing. I've always loved that image.

Flowers, fuchsias, geraniums

I don't think I need to resort to chains just yet, but this week has been a struggle.

My initial sketching was fine.

fuchsia flower sketches

(Even this tiny, quick sketch. For some reason I'm smitten with it even though it was quick and messy. There's just something about it... to me, at least).

fuchsia sketch, pencil drawing, Anne Butera

And mixing up colors. Fine, again. But designing the painting itself I hit a wall. Even with all the chanting of "keep going" I was doing, the lines coming out of my pencil were just not right. I felt clumsy. Uncoordinated. Sluggish.

Maybe part of it was the weather. So dark, dreary and then stormy. Thunderstorms. Hail. Rain, rain, rain and even snow. April at its most Aprilish.

There were distractions aplenty and when I let them take me from the painting I called it "taking a break". Funny, isn't it. That fine line between distraction and a legitimate break from something that isn't working quite right. The one detrimental. The other necessary.

Did I have to write my newsletter* yesterday and tinker with my website and tackle a couple other projects or was I simply avoiding my painting? Was I right that it was too dark (even with all the lights turned on in my studio) to paint well?

One way or another, it doesn't matter now.

fuchsia flower painting, watercolor, paint palette, Anne Butera

My painting is waiting for me. The sun is shining. Last night's snow is melting. I better get going. And keep going.

Have  lovely weekend.

*If you haven't already, you can sign up for my newsletter here. I updated the sign-up page with some information about what to expect. I'd love to have your feedback. What would you like to see in my newsletters? What don't you like about newsletters in general and if you get my newsletter already, is there something you don't like about it? I'm still feeling my way around and would love to get your input, after all, I'm writing my newsletter for its readers, not for me.


  1. I just left a lengthy comment and forgot to sign in so it was lost. Drat! Here's a shorter version! I love receiving your newsletter Anne and look forward to it popping into my mailbox. In your recent newsletter you mentioned the Cedar Waxwings in your garden and it got me thinking, have you ever painted a bird? I know that you paint beautiful flora and fauna and butterflies but have never seen you paint a picture of a bird. Thanks for the book recommendation - I will follow up Natalie Goldberg's Living Color. 'Keep going' with the newsletter and the blog Anne. Your writing, paintings and enthusiasm in all you do really do enrich my life. :-)

    1. Hi, Simone! Sorry you lost your comment. :( So frustrating when that happens!

      So glad you enjoyed my newsletter!

      I have painted a few birds, but haven't spent much time doing so. Maybe I'll work on some in my sketchbook with Dana. I have to figure out how to put my own, unique twist on bird paintings. I feel like there are so many watercolor bird paintings already "out there". Now you've got me thinking!

      Thank you for your encouragement, suggestions and friendship! You enrich my life, too!

  2. Hi,
    I love all the work you do Anne. It is beautiful and makes me smile.
    xx oo

    1. Thank you, Carla! So nice to have you cheering for me! :)


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