A Meditation & Pep Talk for Facing a Blank Canvas


Recently, someone looking for creative encouragement pulled me aside. She said, “it isn’t just that I haven’t approached a blank canvas. I’m terrified. I’m frozen. Paralyzed.” She went on to tell me a version of a familiar story from childhood that left her with a creative block, that left her feeling she could only create if what she created was ‘perfect’. 

Reflecting on her words, I found my heart bursting. For me the time at the canvas is SO FAR from performance and perfection. In fact, with reflection I can see that every brush stroke I make is an act of loving awareness. Not because I’m perfect and centered and without fear, doubt, worry, regret. But because my painting practice is a spiritual practice. And when the brush is in hand, something shifts for me. I can see that each mark is either love or a direct call for love.

Do you know what happens when you create from this place of love or a call to love? Magic. Absolute magic. There is a shifting and re-ordering within you. It is a completely new experience. And the result, when you look at your creation is you only feel the fulness of love and the call to love. You are actually blinded to critical thoughts. It is incredible. So how do you get there?

Here is a meditation and pep talk to help you on your way.

Imagine a small child you adore. Past or present.
Can you see the sweet roundness of their face.
Imagine the wideness of their eyes, the lightness of their step, the playfulness of their movements.

They bring you a picture.
It is a simple circle with lines emerging from the circle to the left and right, and two lines out of the bottom.
The child’s face lights up, and she reveals, “It’s you.” 
Now your face lights up.

You gaze again at the paper with frayed edges.
And you see her creation anew.
You soak in the total and complete perfection of this creation.
A smile spreads across your face.

You reflect that even in a few years, the child could never create this again.
There is exquisite beauty in the rawness of this piece, this moment.
As the child grows, their pictures get more precise. Their lines get heavier.
Eventually the child puts down the brush.
Either distracted by other activities,
Or believing they are no good at putting brush to canvas.

Now imagine you are that child.
You are laughing and playing.
You do a little hip shimmy as you choose paints 
For no reason other than the joy of being alive.
You have no thought of failure.
You only desire to paint what you love with the colors you love.

Begin here friends. Begin in innocence. Let yourself be led by love, led by joy. I could give you instructions. I could talk to you about mixing colors, layering, blending, texture and more. We could do that. There is nothing wrong with doing that. And it isn’t necessary.

The point isn’t to learn how to paint. The point is to play, create, explore, dwell in discovery, curiosity, possibility. This is not about what is happening at the canvas. This is about what is happening in your heart, mind, and life.

To step up to a blank canvas, with joy, intuition, freedom and curiosity comes naturally to a child, and often calls for bravery as an adult. That is what creativity invites us to.

Are we willing to be quiet enough to hear our hearts desire even in the small things like the color of paint? Are we willing to be quiet enough to hear where our heart is bursting and where our heart is aching? That is the invitation of creativity. Not to create some perfect impression of the world around you. But to transform, release and discover the world within you. And to wrap all you find there in love. Begin here and what arrives on the canvas will be secondary to what arrives in your heart.