the artist's notebook










the creative life

creative issues

learn to paint

inspirational artists




what madilyn taught me

Who of us has not had that feeling? Fear of creating. Fear of the big, white, empty canvas. Fear that a work might not be as good as we want it to be, or as good as someone else’s. You know how that feels … how that keeps you awake at night, supplies you with a multitude of reasons to procrastinate, and causes you to freeze before the easel.

I would like to tell you about my niece Madilyn. She is an artist, working in acrylic on paper and canvas. Her painting style is spontaneous and courageous, just like her. When painting, she wears whatever she wants, often pink and purple. Unicorns and sparkles are a common choice. She spreads her quart jars of acrylic, brushes, and canvases on the kitchen table. And, she just paints. Marvelous happy houses and smiling people. Rainbows and animals. If something is not the way she wants, she paints over it, or throws it on the floor and starts a new canvas.

Being so spontaneous, she makes a mess all over the table and herself. Who cares? She just strips down to her underwear and continues with her work.

Madilyn is 7 years old.

What my niece has taught me:

Making art is fun. Madilyn does not do internet searches to see what others are doing. She does not tell herself she cannot do it or call herself names when something goes wrong. She does not think about that person who told her she had no talent. She joyfully plays.

Art can be made anywhere. Got a kitchen table? A corner of the dining room? A seat at Starbucks? Go for it!

Dress the part. Okay, so we may not all want to strip to our undies to paint, but having one special piece of clothing can tell you “It’s time to create!” How about designating a favorite old t-shirt as your “art shirt”? Or, a funky old hat? Personally, I have a box in the studio full of colorful cotton play clothes just for painting.

Throw it out and move on. So, the piece did not work out. You learned what not to do! It was not a waste at all. Get a fresh canvas and do it again.

Put your art on the refrigerator. Well, maybe not literally. But, share your work with others. Making art makes Madilyn happy and I smile every time I look at her canvas (below) on my wall. Enjoy your creativity and spread the joy around.

Happy creating!