Unearthing creative possibilities: Trish Roque's website, personal blog, & portfolio

Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

How the creative person can overcome those days of doubt.

Tree portrait - Im learning to expand beyond my trusty ball point pen and am practicing drawing with carbon pencil. Trees are tough but with enough practice, I hope to understand the essence of trees.

I'm learning to expand beyond my trusty ball point pen and am practicing drawing with carbon pencil. Trees are tough but with enough practice, I hope to understand the essence of trees. Whether or not this tree succeeds is not the question - I'm just drawing and if it takes me 10,000 drawings of trees to get it right - then 10,000 drawings of trees it shall be!

I’m a member of Danny Gregory‘s Everyday Matters Yahoo Group and recently, Louise, one of the members posted an email regarding doubt. More specifically, she asked how members of the group overcome those days when the creativity doesn’t seem to flow and the insecurity is at an all time high.

How does one continue to promote one’s art without the self-consciousness and the fear of being labeled pretentious?

I am very familiar with these feelings so I shared with her some of the ways that I get through those days.

Being confident isn’t everything but it helps.

Having confidence is certainly key to a creative person’s success – whether it’s believing that you’ll eventually be able to paint the way you want to or be able to make a good living from your own creative work. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should others?

Having written that, I also believe that it’s not as essential as some other traits. Because like the ability to draw and paint, I believe confidence can be acquired and strengthened with practice. It’s like a muscle – without the daily exercise, the daily practice, the daily doing – your confidence muscle can atrophy.

So, how to overcome the insecurities and gain confidence?

Being unafraid to fail is more important than confidence.

Drawings and doodles. One of my creative goals is to be able to illustrate the ideas I have floating around in my head so Ive taken to doodling in my journal to find my style. I dont know if I suck or am perceived as pretentious but it ultimately doesn't matter. I am in the process of finding my own style.  The Locks of Love illustration is an idea for an upcoming charity event. I shall post more when I get more details.

One of my creative goals is to be able to illustrate the ideas I have floating around in my head so I've taken to doodling in my journal to find my style. I don't know if I suck or am perceived as pretentious but it ultimately doesn't matter. I am sharing my process of finding my own style. For instance, The Locks of Love illustration is an idea for an upcoming charity event, and the devil-child & cat was Halloween inspiration.

Gain more confidence by doing, painting, drawing, getting yourself out there, participating in conversations, blogging about it, then failing, then learning, and keeping on going.

Learn not to be afraid to make the mistakes. And if there is fear, acknowledge the fear but don’t let your actions be controlled by it. That is at the heart of confidence.

Here are a couple of quotes that I absolutely love and keep close to my heart:

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.

~Ambrose Redmoon

And my all-time favorite Thomas Edison quote:

I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

~Thomas Edison

Ack! But what if I suck? What if my work is seen as pretentious?

Recent mark-makings in my sketchbook.

Recent mark-makings in my sketchbook & playing with color.

Yes, I’ve heard those words in my own head many times. Here’s my take on it:

So what if I suck? Yes, I am going to suck, I am going to fail, I am going to make mistakes. See the above paragraph on how to overcome the suckiness and failures.

But eventually, I will figure it out by continuing to draw and create and practice. In the drawing and creating and practicing, my work might come off as pretentious, but that is all a part of figuring out who I am as an artist. The same thing applies to you.

And on the subject of pretentiousness – I think that comes through when a person isn’t being authentically themselves, pretending to be someone they are not. But that is a judgment call and is so subjective.  You can’t control what others think about you anyway so go ahead and just be yourself and have fun doing it!

Maybe you just need a break from the creativity.

So when the doubts hit, and the anxiety, stress and worries start to kick in, maybe you just need to go for a nice long walk. Just like with physical exercise and rest, your creativity muscles also need to relax.

For me, the external world can sometimes get so loud that I can’t hear myself think, let alone be creative. Those are the days when I shut off my computer, I throw the dogs in the car, and take a nice long hike up in the hills. I will come back feeling rejuvenated, and more ready to face that blank piece of paper or canvas.

What have you done that’s worked for you?

Other members of the EDM group suggested switching from one’s media of choice to another that one doesn’t always work with. And others suggested just doodling and making marks in one’s sketchbook (another one of my personal favorites).

What do you do to overcome doubt?


Zazen practice & what it’s currently teaching me

It’s been a very long time since I’ve practiced Zazen (sitting meditation) – almost a decade in fact.  I had intended to come back to practice since moving to California in 2000 but intentions and reality sometimes don’t coincide.  That doesn’t matter really.

What’s important is that I’ve been sitting for the last three weeks, 15 minutes every morning and every night before going to bed. Just sitting and counting breaths.  It’s a lot more difficult than it sounds – to try to reach 10, to inhale and exhale and to just focus on “one”, on “two”, on “three”, and that is a bird singing so beautifully and loudly, and what is Sammy barking at?, hmmm, I’m hungry, oh I should be counting – and back to “one”.  It is very rare that I ever reach 10.

It’s only been three weeks but in that time, my journal writings have reflected a person that doesn’t feel so panicked or rushed. I alluded to that feeling in my last post, when letting go of what’s not there just came to me.

The practice of sitting and counting breaths, of focusing on one, on two, on three – that practice reminds me to focus on what’s in front of me – to let go of what’s not there – which is everything else that is not in front of me. That includes the past, the future, and even the present, because really, what is the present?  By the time you sense it, it will already be in the past.

And yesterday, I was struck with another realization:

I need to start doing things with the small “I”, without the ego. Just writing those words, the essence is lost, yet, I don’t know how else to describe it. Replace the big “I” with the small “I” and the task at hand, whether it’s making websites or art, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, becomes about the task and not about me.

These words feel inadequate.

Make art with the little “I”, without the ego, learn with the little “I”, make websites with the little “I”.  It becomes about the work and not about me.  There is something very liberating about that – as though this load has been lifted off my shoulders.

We all have glimpses of what I’m talking about – that feeling of losing yourself in the moment with the task at hand, when hours fly by without notice.  It doesn’t have to be a task – it could be an activity, the runner hitting that high, the artist creating, the musician playing for hours. That is the closest I can come to describing this essential nature.

These words continue to be inadequate and I’m not a good enough wordsmith to describe this well, but let me try again: I’m learning the importance of fully expressing the essential nature of this person, this little “I” that’s me.


Lessons from my dog: growing old with grace

I don’t often write about my pets, though my site is full of their pictures. But lately, I’ve felt compelled to write about Siwa, who will be 12 years old in February (update: she is actually older than I thought considering I gave her birthday as the date I adopted her ~ she was 2 months old at the time so her actual birth month is December). She is a very special dog, one who has been with me through a number of life’s pages. Heck, she was with me through every significant relationship I’ve had with the exception of the first. She has been my constant companion since my early 20s, making the trek with me from New Mexico, where she was born and bred.

Siwa in Tahoe 12/2008

She has been an avid hiker, like me, since she was a pup. When I arrived in the Bay Area, she was diagnosed with severe arthritis in her elbows. She was four at the time. It didn’t seem to stop her. She would chase cows, squirrels, cats. We ran through the trails of Redwood Park in the Oakland hills. She would always be along exploring the parks of the East Bay with me, just as we had done through the trails of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in New Mexico.

Two weekends ago marked a significant time in both our lives: I started giving her a separate walk on the trails because she is no longer able to keep up on our regular hikes with Sammy, our 4-1/2 year old Border Collie. It takes her about an hour to walk less than a mile.

We spent the New Year’s weekend playing in the snow up in Tahoe. Siwa had to stay behind for the snowshoeing trip, which made me really sad. But after she and I took a walk down the snow-filled road, she looked at me with her big brown eyes as if to say, “It’s ok. I’ve had my fun. I know my limits and I’m good with it.”

It’s really hard to see her slowing down so quickly in the last six months. But every step she takes, she does so with her tail wagging. She moves at her own pace, confident that she will get to where she needs to go in her own time. She is secure in herself, sometimes to the point of being aloof. (She is more like cat than dog in that way.) She is incredibly patient, though she does not hesitate to warn other dogs when they have crossed the line. She will defend herself but she rarely starts the fight. (That would be Sammy!) She is very forgiving, and is quite content to just enjoy her life.

*Sigh* I want to grow old gracefully like her. *Sigh*

Tired Siwa

This photo was taken after we hiked a good 3-4 hours in the mountains above Kangaroo Lake in Northen California this past summer. We crossed the Pacific Crest Trail at one point. She plopped on her bed upon our return to the campsite. Jon, Sammy, and I decided to take a dip at the lake, to which Siwa said, "I'm not moving from this spot!" Not bad for an old gal!


Media Diary Entry: Post from Actual Journal

This is actually the first post to my media diary.


Making a living from drawing (or whatever calls to you)

A visitor to my site recently emailed me to ask this question:

Is drawing and making a living doing it, dead..? Is it nothing more than a pipe dream..?

I want to share my response because the issues of self-doubt and discouragement that he brings up are so relevant to many individuals who are trying to heed their calling. Here was my response to him:

Thanks for writing and sharing your experiences with me. In many ways I understand where you are coming from though I have not had the misfortune of meeting people who have discouraged me so bluntly. The only thing I can say about people like the instructor and writer you met is to pass on a quote I read somewhere: “Those who don’t follow their dreams discourage others from following their dream.”

It’s easy to internalize what these people have to say especially when one’s own doubts already exist. I’m just as guilty of this but I try not to listen to people like them. I try to remember the quote above and continue on as though I have not been affected by their words.

The short answer to your question is yes, it is possible to make a living from doing what you love, from drawing. I know this because I have met and become friends with people who are already making a good living from drawing, and from being an artist in general. I sought these folks out intentionally because I knew I could learn from them. I think it is important to be surrounded by people who can be role models. Just as it is true that people who don’t follow their dreams discourage you from following yours, those who are following their calling, encourage everyone they meet to do the same. Take a look at the work of some of the artists who are making a good living from their art and who I was fortunate enough to meet: Sherrie McGraw, David Leffel, Michael Bergt, Star York, Donna Howell-Sickles and Jeff Brock. These are just some of the people I met when I lived in Santa Fe. It took having to move to a place where I was surrounded by artists to get that inspiration.

I think the biggest lesson that I have yet still to learn is that there is no one formula to becoming an artist. Each of these folks I met found their own paths. I think you have to do the same and you must be persistent. Just keep doing what you love and don’t let anyone’s words discourage you. Just keep drawing. Move to a place where you are surrounded by like-minded people who will encourage you. The one thing you need to have to follow your dreams is courage. Take risks and dare to defy the people who told you that you couldn’t make it as an artist.

In the meantime, here’s an online community that I think you will find inspiration from: http://www.dannygregory.com/. He runs a yahoo group called Everyday Matters where ordinary folks encourage each other to keep drawing and stay creative. I’ve also recently discovered the writings of Robert Fritz. He writes about creativity from a perspective that I find refreshing. It’s worth a read just to cleanse yourself from the words of those toxic people in your life. Here are some quotes from his book that I wrote in my blog: http://creativepathstudio.com/blog/2007/05/30/liberating-thoughts/

I hope my words helped. I certainly don’t have the answers and I still struggle at times to stay true to my own calling. But I think in the end you will find that your dream will continue to pester you until you’ve given it your full attention. It will not go away regardless of how many times you let yourself be talked out of it because of other people’s words. You have to at least try, even if it takes your whole life to make it a reality.