Dancing with the Muse

Mindcamp Article

Do you remember making art as a kid and reaching that point when you stepped back to look at your progress? Do you remember the voice of the inner critic telling you how much it sucked? If you were like me, you probably crumpled up many sheets of paper and tossed them into the trash.

After painting over 100 portraits since last year’s Mindcamp, I can promise you that the inner critic is still there, as is the feeling of discomfort when staring at an unfinished piece. In some inexplicable way, I’ve managed to subdue the nagging, and meticulous inner critic and discover and embrace the inner muse. The result has been a remarkable creative journey and the beginning of what feels like the second act of my life.

Whether it is painting, writing or another realm of creativity, I’m guessing that the four steps I have taken would apply nicely.

First, I made a commitment. After going through a prolific summer of painting, I made a promise to myself that I would not let it go when the frenetic fall began. I would commit to producing one painting a week, no matter what, no matter how busy I got doing other things. As it turned out, the promise of one a week ended up becoming three or four, and often more.

I developed a system that works and kept refining it. I’ll share the basics of my process during the “Painting Steve Shama” session at Mindcamp 2015.

Most importantly, I trusted the process and continue to do so. I say these three simple words when a painting doesn’t seem to be coming together, or if I feel overwhelmed by its complexity or composition. The process hasn’t failed me once.

I’ve become rather adept at listening to my inner muse, the one that sits on my left shoulder guiding my subject, colour, and technique choices. The results of good listening have been both surprising and delightful.

Last year, Steve Shama shared with us that he chooses to live his life one moment short of a tear. This remarkable approach has informed and inspired my creative journey, gifting me with one miraculous moment after another.

I watched a father’s eyes well up with tears looking at the portrait of his baby girl who died within hours of being born three years earlier.

I was blessed by a phone call from the wife of a global music icon who described what happened after she received the painting I did of her love the day after he passed. “I wept like a baby,” she said.

I was able to pass the brush to a young boy who helped finish the portrait of his paintballing mentor who died tragically in a workplace accident.

The idea of “Painting Steve Shama” was birthed near the end of last year’s Mindcamp, but it has been nurtured and strengthened by every moment that followed. Together, we’ll walk through a painting process, dance with our inner muse, and create absolutely unique and beautiful paintings of a man who lives life to the fullest and is part of the heart and soul of Mindcamp.

Russell ThomasRussell Thomas presents Painting Steve Shama: Trusting your inner artist at Mindcamp 2015.

Comments 6

  1. I am so looking forward to this session! I am a painter myself, and I love the idea of committing to a painting a week. I have also had the challenge of losing the energy after an amazing summer of art.
    Okay, I’m putting it out to the Mindcamp scheduling gurus — please do NOT schedule me at the same time as this amazing session!

    1. Post

      At the moment you’re in luck (no guarantees things won’t change!). Plein Air Painting is scheduled for Friday morning, Painting Steve Shama is Saturday morning 🙂

  2. Russell, this is a beautiful piece about a beautiful world of possibility. Thank you for submitting it, thank you for offering the session, and thank you for being part of the heart and soul of Mindcamp. You are inspiring.

  3. ” There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose because he can do so, he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.” Henri Matisse

  4. I cannot wait for this session, I’ve been admiring Russell’s paintings via LinkedIn for a long time and cheered out loud at my desk when I saw this session.

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