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Monday, October 25, 2021

Good enough

 My mother hoarded art materials.  But she would postpone painting them. She was firmly convinced that painting was a fun activity, only deserved if you had been responsible enough to complete all your chores first.  As most of us know, that very rarely happens.  

She accumulated a mountain of paints, canvases, frames, books, and every other imaginable arts and crafts plaything.  When she died, I inherited her supplies.  About half of them had never been used at all. Three shopping bags were full of dried acrylic paint from a hobby store that had been closed for a decade.

I also bought a lot of art supplies.  Apparently the hoarding gene and the postponing gene run pretty strong.  I got paints, and canvases, and other things.  I always said I was going to wait until I was "good enough" at painting to use them.  I was afraid to "waste" a "big" 16x20 canvas on an amateurish, ugly painting.  I didn't want to "mess up" expensive wood items by doing a poor job on them.   So my already considerable hoard of art supplies kept growing.  I piddled around with mini canvases and small ornaments. But I was afraid to really do anything much with most of my hoard.  I just believed I wasn't "good enough" yet.

One day I realized that I am getting old.  Fast.  And I don't want to leave my art stuff to someone else when I die. (On top if that, a third-generation hoard would take a warehouse!) I simply started actually painting.  And my gosh, how quickly it became a vital activity!  I needed that creative outlet and had never fully utilized it.  It is as necessary as eating and sleeping now.   And the plain truth of it is, if you don't  paint, you'll never be "good enough".  

I have certainly done better on some projects than others.  And you can definitely track the improvement in my art by looking at the dates of completion.  But a teacher in a workshop I took told us "practice is art".  I took that advice to heart.  I paint on anything that doesn't run away. 16x20 canvases are no longer "big". That was a real turning point and I am so glad I did it. I sell my paintings and painted objects.  I give some to friends and family.  But mostly, I keep painting.

My husband came out to see what I was doing dragging everything out of the shed to get to objects at the back.  He asked me what in the devil I was doing.  I replied "remember those big carousel horses I was going to paint when I got good enough?"  He nodded.

I said "I'm good enough." Incredible, the freedom that comes with that knowledge! Now go paint. Or sculpt. Or do whatever creative thing you've been postponing. 

Happy Painting!

betsylevels com 


  1. Oh My! It seems that the hoarding gene is very contagious! Betsy, your mother reminds me of me, taking the time to do house chores and leaving painting at night when I'm already dead tired, but then this is my time to paint without a guilty conscience! I think that housework or any work and art they each belong to different worlds, but we need to live in both and make it work. You are now choosing the best of options, the one that makes you happy, relieves your stress and calms you down. When you're happy, your creativity gets enhanced, ideas flows more easily and so does the paint in those dried bottles!
    I still have tons of Accent bottles, greatest colors for all those heirloom books we also hoarded. They must be over 20 years old, since the company closed I think about those times! Am I thinking of throwing them out? NO WAY!

  2. I found out that those bottles of paint can last a loopooong time if regularly shaken. I used to pay my daughters to sit and shake paints while watching tv!

  3. Betsy, I love your new blog, and I keep trying to organize so I don't look like a hoarder, is that possible?🤪🤪🤪 ----Pam

    1. My husband has decked the attic for storage and built a storage shed...possessions seem to expand to fit space!

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