Terror of The Blank Canvas (no not that! anything but that!)

What’s more terrifying than a blank canvas?

A big blank canvas.

Sure, anytime I’m staring at an empty page in my sketchbook, there’s a bit of anticipation. I mean, that pristine space could turn into anything.

The possibilities are endless.

So is the potential for screw-ups.

Now multiply that potential โ€” from cute 4x4s to a gigantic 24×24.

That’s what I was doing in preparation for my art show in Boston next week, putting together a big “statement piece” to catch people’s attention.

For some visual perspective, I’d begun the weekend sketching those cute 4x4s to sell at the show, too โ€”

But The Big One was on my to-do list. And I kept putting it off.

The 4x4s looked like minnows, dwarfed next to the fear-inducing Great White shark of the big canvas.

(I’d painted the background a few weeks ago. That hadn’t been too bad, because it was just playing abstractly with color.)

But the actual composition felt so important to get right.

If I screwed up a 4×4, no big deal. Toss it and start the next one.

If I screwed up in my sketchbook, no big deal. Turn the page.

But if I screwed up Biggie, there was no backup plan, no page to turn. Whatever it turned into, I’d be stuck with it.

After plenty of procrastination, I dove in. I had to. Deadlines are awesome motivators.

And as I forced myself to make those first brave marks on the canvas, I gained more confidence.

The leap of going from a blank canvas to a completed one, was still scary. But really, I was never going to take one giant leap.

I was going to take a bunch of little steps. That’s what they say about climbing mountains and eating an elephant, right?

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

So I started with that single step. Then the next. Then the next.

Sketch. Oil pastels. Ink the outlines. Shadows. Crosshatch.

Each step was something I could handle.

And all those steps together, just might make a half-decent finished canvas.

This is the sketch of the composition for The Big One.
That’s a normal sized coffee cup. It looks so darn small!

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