Day 31. Steal Like an Artist

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“Looking back/Looking ahead” 4×4, oil on canvas

You might be scared to start. That’s natural. There’s this very real thing that runs rampant in educated people. It’s called “impostor syndrome.” The clinical definition is a “psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.” It means that you feel like a phony, like you’re just winging it, that you really don’t have any idea what you’re doing. Guess what: None of us do. Ask anybody doing truly creative work, and they’ll tell you the truth: They don’t know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up to do their thing. Every day.”

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative


I’ve never read Austin Kleon’s Steal like an Artist, but the title alone felt appropriate for today’s post.

Like a klepto at an open air market, I see ideas ripe for the taking everywhere I go. This entire month I have gathered ideas from others– a devoted yogi, a cowboy poet, a photographer, a chef, a musician, other painters and writers.

A while back, my friend Stephanie posted to instagram a photo of her daughter at the beach. It looked like a painting so I took a screenshot of it, which I pulled out today. I have found the best way to not spend an entire morning wondering what to paint, is to have a little folder (mine is mental rather than physical) called “things I want to paint”. I add to it all the time.

This month, my small studio has been overrun with wedding paintings still drying and large abstracts that haven’t yet found their homes. In the name of minimizing chaos, I knew I’d have to use my smallest canvas– the 4×4 in.

This image felt appropriate for the last day of the January painting challenge– a little nostalgic, a little open to possibilities and grandeur, a little bit recognizing my smallness. The world will never be out of ideas. I’ll never wonder through it and see they’ve all been taken. It’s just a matter of which ones I’ll bump into next and where they will lead me.

I can’t lie. I’m relieved this 31 days is over. But if you don’t know me by now–

I’m clearly planning the next one, way, way, way down the line in 2018. And I hope you’ll join me. 

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Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

January 31, 2018

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