Knowing When to Battle Hesitancy

The other day I wrote about honoring our hesitancy and since then I've been thinking a lot about hesitancy and reluctance. How sometimes they're a good thing. They signal a need to slow down. To pause in our rush of busyness and to realign with our heart. Hesitancy can be a sign that something's not right for us or that something needs to change. It's important that we listen.

But there's a flip side, too. Sometimes reluctance is based in fear. We're reluctant to dive into a project because we're afraid of failure.

That sort of reluctance needs to be honored, too, but in a different way.

sketchbook, watercolor, gingko leaves, nature, botanical sketchbook, watercolor palette, color swatches, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

In both instances I think we need to slow down, to take some time to listen to our feelings and determine what's beneath them. It's not always easy to discern. Sometimes fear disguises itself with feelings of being too busy or not having enough time or being tired or depressed. It can be so easy to put things off for what seem like valid reasons.

Lately I've been putting off art-making. I have other projects that I've been working on that have kept me busy. Winter's darkness and chill is making me tired, too, and I've been struggling with some feelings of inadequacy and failure. (In a way those feelings are funny set beside all my recent successes, but it's so easy to have our fragile egos bruised. Rejection can loom so much larger than success in our minds, when in reality the opposite should be true). Wrapped up in busyness, tiredness and a dip of depression my fear wasn't so easy to see.

I stepped back and realized that it is important for me to make art. Other things can wait (and some things aren't important enough for me to do at all), but art should always be a priority.

I picked up these gingko leaves over a month ago. I was working on other projects at the time and after a quick pen sketch in my sketchbook and a photo shoot beside a different painting, I laid them out on one of my studio tables to wait. When they began to curl I pressed them in a book. Time passed. And then more time passed. The gingko leaves were still waiting.

I couldn't let them wait any longer.

watercolor, process, gingko leaves, botanical watercolor, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Their color has changed quite a bit, but I might like them better this way.

watercolor, painting process, botanical watercolor, botanical painting, gingko leaves, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

For a while I was working in my sketchbook almost every day, but once I took a break it was hard to get back into it. I'm still figuring out how the best way to make sure I do, because when I'm working in my sketchbook every day my other art flows so much more easily ("painting a lot leads to a lot more painting").

watercolor, botanical watercolor, watercolor wreath, gingko leaves, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

These gingko leaves were a joy to paint. From the initial color tests in my sketchbook to the finished painting.*

botanical watercolor, watercolor, watercolor wreath, Gingko leaves, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

With snowflakes floating past my studio windows gingko leaves might not be the most seasonally appropriate thing for me to have been painting, but they were just right all the same.

Wishing you slow moments of peace and clarity and the courage to battle your hesitancy when it's holding you back.

Have a lovely weekend.

*This Gingko Leaf Wreath is now available in my shop. And archival prints are available on Etsy.


  1. Such a pretty, cheerful painting emerged Anne. Maybe just what you needed. I started a post about this myself because so many things I've been painting look so bad but I've kept at it ignoring the "should paint like this" and "must paint that subject". I've been finding if I'm not excited about the subject and colors it really shows. And for me getting lost in the imagination part is so freeing and enjoyable. It's taken me a long time (ok just now getting it) that it's ok to paint this way. Oh, don't forget that knitting does wonders for mental health. :)

    1. Thank you, Dana!

      We should follow our inspiration. Experimenting is good, too, but always follow our heart.

      Thanks for the reminder that we all struggle with this (your work always looks so joyful to me!).

  2. Your posts about hesitancy touch on real truths, Anne. Sometimes we need to push past fear or slow down to appreciate what's in front of us. Other times our hesitancy or lack of interest is about needing a new perspective and changing things up. It is good to get quiet within and figure out a path forward. All artists struggle with fear of rejection but that's not a reason to give up. If anything its a chance to connect with other creatives and encourage each other to keep trying. I also agree with Dana that sometimes trying a different creative outlet allows us to get back in the stream of creating so we can face the challenge that we've been avoiding. Happy weekend, my friend.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Sharon. We're all struggling at times, even if it doesn't look like it!

      Hope your weekend was lovely and creative!!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Aga! This one is a new favorite of mine, too! :)


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