Inspiration Fridays! Are you stopping before your start?

8paint Inspiration Fridays

Are you stopping before your start?

Have you ever been too scared to move?

“I just literally made what I couldn’t do and that became my visual language.” – Jenny Saville

As I looked down at the glassy flatness of the lake and the sheer cliffs of the cove, the little circling motor boat and chanting people below looked like toys. Back to the top of the cliff. My friends stood around me at full size, cheering me forward: “Just jump!

Most of my formative teen years were spent in Portland, Oregon attending Lincoln high school. It’s the same school that Mark Rothko graduated from in 1921 and later Matt Groening scribbled his way through in 1972. I don’t have a plaque yet, but I hope I’m on the shortlist. The school is located in the heart of downtown Portland. There are a lot of tall buildings and buses, but no cliffs or lakes.

There was no getting around the inevitable. My best friend had already jumped twice. Everything in my body said no. But at 15, I was hardly in my body. And so, after what could have been 5 full minutes of standing there wondering if I would ever recover a chance with any of the girls who were witnessing my cowardice, I took a breath, and I jumped.

Terror was replaced by weightlessness, wind, and endorphins. I was flying. The cliffs and little shrubs careened by. The chanting onlookers and party-boat were life-size. Then the water with its icy bite. Even that sensation was replaced with a tingling sort of ecstasy. I scrambled to the surface of the lake, gasping for air, refreshed, and most importantly, redeemed. It felt good.

Do you know what part of that memory sticks out most? The waiting. The second guessing. The self doubt. It was a big leap, and I didn’t think that I was ready, but it turned out that I was.

Too High - oil on canvas - Gabriel Mark Lipper

Too High – oil on canvas – Gabriel Mark Lipper

How many times have we stopped before we even get started? Staring at a blank canvas wondering if our ideas are good enough, if we’re talented enough, if we even have the right supplies? Or even halfway through, when we get to the ugly stage and stop. In that moment, it’s easy to believe that this is all that we can do, and that we have failed. And sometimes, if we let it, that feeling can live with us. It can stop us from ever starting. It can keep us from showing up to the studio at all.

But then, all it takes is picking up a brush. dipping it in the paint, and taking the leap. We are flying. Painting isn’t hard. Thinking about painting is hard. Waiting for inspiration is hard. Beating ourselves up because we’re not ready is hard.

So the next time you think about how you should do more drawing, or you really need to get back in the studio, take that moment to put out your sketchbook and get your paints ready. Take the leap. It’s the waiting that hurts. The doing feels amazing.

Do you have to wait until you’re ready?

What feels like jumping?

Are you stopping before you start?


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