At her invitation, I entered the Artist's Atelier

9 Aug 2020
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[To watch a video of this blog post please click here: https://bit.ly/2DN5hbM and to listen to a podcast please click here: https://bit.ly/3gJ3m6C]

Whilst I suspected she'd done some tidying up in readiness, there was, nevertheless a joyful sense of chaos. There were canvases neatly stacked everywhere - all of them a work in progress - and nothing finished. And of course, there was colour! Palettes loaded with paint, tubes of the wonderful stuff, and brushes in pots galore!

The work I'd come to see had pride of place in the best light on the main easel. Even though it wasn't quite complete, I could easily imagine the finished work of art. It was breathtaking.

We'd connected originally because I'd seen several of her pieces on Instagram and Facebook, and then found a community of fans on Pinterest. Everything she completed and published appealed to me, making it really hard to choose the piece I was to invest in.

We sat down to discuss art and creativity over a cup of extraordinarily good coffee. And then she punched me, metaphorically, in the solar plexus with these nine words:

Are you comparing your mess to someone else's masterpiece?

When I got my breath back, I asked her, "Where did that come from?"

She said, "Everyone I invite into my creative space has already seen and judged my work. They only connect and come here if they like what I do, but I can also say that they've only previously seen the finished work.

"They don't see the research - books strewn everywhere - hours on the internet - palettes of experimental colours.

"They don't see the failed sketches and cartoons. They don't see the canvases that 'almost made it' but were then abandoned.

"They don't see the mess.

"They judge me by the masterpiece (she winked) I publish - the finished work - not by the messy process it takes to make the masterpiece."

I smiled, and she concluded, "I love people even more than painting, and there's nothing better than playing a role in releasing their creative potential. But when they come here wanting to be more creative like me, the kindest thing I can do is show them the mess behind the masterpiece. There cannot be one without the other.

"It took me a long time to accept the process. I compared my mess with the finished masterpieces of other artists I admired, and it held me back for years. Embrace the mess and let your masterpiece emerge!"

The truth of this struck me deeply. I'd been comparing my mess of a life to other people's masterpieces as portrayed through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I'd take them at face value when meeting them face-to-face at networking meetings. They'd had the cleaners in, there was no mess to be seen.

So I ask you the same: are you comparing your 'mess' with other people's masterpieces?

I walked away from the Artist's Atelier a richer person.

Then being a bit of a creative myself, this idea popped into my head:

Are you judging someone else by their mess and missing the masterpiece in the making?

Hmmm, that's a good thought. If you're like me, it can be all too easy to focus on someone's mess and miss the wonder of the emerging masterpiece. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts of grace is to love someone in the midst of their mess and seek to be the creative catalyst who will help them make good art using the mess they are in!

Lex

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Comments

Molly

Aug. 10, 2020, 1:07 a.m.

Hi Lex Don’t you find that the most artistic or intelligent people live in chaos? It’s interesting. There are hidden depths in your blog which I will explore tomorrow (not listened to the audios yet) but I will.... Molly xx

Reply

Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 5:30 a.m.

Thanks Molly... you can take it as an encouragement to be messy and enjoy it today! xx

Molly

Aug. 10, 2020, 11:49 a.m.

Loved the video Lex. It’s a masterpiece!! I’m now thinking of the amount of work that must go into these videos. I had enough trouble creating a slide show and still haven’t worked out how to send it. Anyway, brilliant, I was hooked. Thank you, Molly xx

Carol

Aug. 10, 2020, 1:36 p.m.

Molly notes that intelligent or artistic people live in chaos. My theory on this "chaos": Either one is mentally very organized or not. I'm not, therefore I like order in my surroundings. Have you ever noticed how a person whose entire surroundings appear a mess can somehow find a blue pencil in a second? I realized that it is only a mess to me.

Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 1:47 p.m.

I think, Carol, you're onto something - especially when I view Lupin's comment below. One person's chaos may well be another person's Art! However, since I lose everything, I may not be worthy of the Blue Pencil award!

Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 1:48 p.m.

Molly! Molly!! Molly!!! [That's me jumping up and down with excitement!!!!] I am SO glad you liked the video. I didn't want to say anything until someone made a comment, but it's my favourite video so far! And I see what you did with the masterpiece... clever! And and yes... they take a long time to produce xx

Molly

Aug. 10, 2020, 2:07 p.m.

Oh Carol, yes I’m always losing things because I have put them away and forgotten where!!

Molly

Aug. 10, 2020, 2:22 p.m.

Lex, I can feel your excitement from here! I have goosebumps! I think it’s my favourite too, although not much in it with last weeks which was also brilliant. If one wants to watch something more than once and then you are onto a winner. And I want to watch it more than once! Well done sounds patronising, but well done!! :-) xx

Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 2:42 p.m.

Not patronising at all... a well-needed encouragement! Thank you xx

Lynzi

Aug. 11, 2020, 9:08 a.m.

Thanks Lex love, another exquisite piece. Molly got me listening too, (usually don't make the time) after I had read it. Gorgeous voice, you smoothie you. Resonates completely. My family staged an intervention this weekend. I only ever ask for help when depressed. I like my manic episodes. But I'm tired now and dreading the crash. Husband took the boys to my sister's and we met Jenny at Wakefield house 2pm. I like her, she seems to get it. Answerphone message: Sean's coming to visit me at 12:45 today. l will try a new med to stabilise me if that's what's needed. No shame in meds that help. I need to stay between the lines, but not lose me. I'm ready now. I'm glad my husband was strong enough to get us help this time and I hope my family will be able to stop judging my mess and see the slowly emerging masterpiece underneath; and we can all get some rest! Peace, love, sparkles; namaste X L X

Lex

Aug. 11, 2020, 5:10 p.m.

The masterpiece, Lynzi, will be replete with sparkles! Yours are courageous words and actions, and we salute you. May you get the rest you all seek. And thank you for your kind words x

Oli

Aug. 10, 2020, 4:57 a.m.

There's a quality which I noticed right from the go on those social media platforms, and the networking meetings, and the lexicon of corporate language which accompanies and defines a certain way of life: to use your painting analogy Lex it's the quality of the paintings you see in corporate hotel lobbies and bedrooms. Abstract, sanitised, bland. These days I try not to judge too much and I wouldn't be surprised if half the issue is my vigilance for spotting this quality (a quality which I'm not at all comfortable with). And it's not a "bad" quality, and I don't want to say it's fake or phoney, it's just one I have never liked. There are no masterpieces on the walls of a Premier Inn hotel room. There was never any mess in their making either. So while they're okay to look at, not offensive, they are also deeply uninteresting. I truly hope they're knocked up by robots in a factory somewhere rather than by a person who's deepest ambition is to produce bland, inoffensive abstracts. :-) Nice blog Lex, thanks.

Reply

Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 5:29 a.m.

I don't know if you're a SciFi kind of chap, Oli... but I'm reminded of 2001 where Bowman discovered everything in the environment made for him is tasteless. It always tickles me that my drum programmes on the computer have a 'humanisation' feature!!! This adds inaccuracies! If the mess and inaccuracies are what it takes to be human, I am human! Really enjoying your insights.

Catherine

Aug. 10, 2020, 6:13 a.m.

When I learned to make lace I was always taught to put in one 'mistake' stitch, so that it couldn’t be mistaken for machine made lace. I’m in total messy chaos at the moment, and have been for a long time. I hate it but haven’t the energy to sort and clear up, but I know I’d feel better if I could. I think it’s possibly a creative streak that is part of wanting to keep things 'for when they’ll come in useful' (as indeed has my stash of Liberty Tana lawn pieces, which are perfect for face masks, of which I’ve made many for friends and neighbours) - but I suspect it’s a much more deeply rooted psychological issue I need to get to grips with! Thanks Lex and Oli.

Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 6:51 a.m.

Dear Clinging On, what a wonderful illustration from lace making! And, yes, there is always an underlying psychologically valid reason for clinging on to 'stuff'. We won't change until there is a better offer! A better way of getting what we really want without a sense of loss. I lose patience with those who are impatient with us who are in the midst of our mess. Perhaps they cannot see their own mess?

Molly

Aug. 10, 2020, 11:01 a.m.

Oli, I rather like those pictures in premier inns! From memory they are full of colour Xx

Adrien

Aug. 10, 2020, 5:29 a.m.

This was just the right comment at the right time for me. My life is chaos, but.... there is also potential for a masterpiece there. What a great alternative. Thank you Lex....

Reply

Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 5:31 a.m.

Excellent news, Adrien! Not only potential, but also the artist's courageous vision to find the masterpiece in the mess! Thank you!

Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 5:39 a.m.

The Title for this blog is: The Mess and The Masterpiece

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Susannah

Aug. 10, 2020, 8:52 a.m.

Hi Lex Firstly, thank you. I haven't recorded my score for ages but I so wanted to comment on this that I have done the test and feel accomplished for having done so. (I can't log in and not do the test!) The part of your blog that really resounded with me (hit a nerve) was the perfect social media images. I have a dear friend of 35 years. When we meet face to face (obviously I haven't done this for several months) I really love her. But I can't stand her facebook perfect pics - always looking for attention. They are all posed,with her looking gorgeous (which she is) asking stupid questions like "should I get the blue dress or the green one?" both with matching face masks. It is just a photo op, not a real question. The other day she even posted a pic of her hoovering! I know that really her life has a lot of challenges, but her public persona is just showing off.

Reply

Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 9:31 a.m.

You've just triggered such a deep thought in me, Susannah. I wonder if friends like that are living an alternative life through Facebook? That would be a kind of double-life. So glad you commented today and took the test. Thank you!

Molly

Aug. 10, 2020, 11:20 a.m.

Yes I can think of at least two people I know like this. I think they need approval, and compliments to make them feel better but yes it is attention seeking and one of the reasons I rarely look on there now because it’s so annoying! I hate having my photo taken let alone taking it myself and plastering it on social media! There might be something in that Lex ‘the double life’ when I used to post on there, I didn’t like it if someone commented in person what I had written. So maybe I saw it as ‘another life’ xx

Orangeblossom

Aug. 10, 2020, 9:08 a.m.

Thanks for the blog Lex. Gives lots of scope to think. A friend has sometimes said “Trust the process” . She is applying it to bereavement support & the grieving process. It can be applied to many processes in life, the general in living & being each day & also specific creative processes like writing, painting, drawing.

Reply

Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 9:32 a.m.

Hi Orangeblossom, how often I have to be reminded to, "Trust the process," - such wise words! Thank you!

Molly

Aug. 10, 2020, 11:25 a.m.

I like those words too, very liberating xx

The Gardener

Aug. 10, 2020, 10:10 a.m.

Bit confused, as ever. When our garden was 'open' every Wednesday it was always immaculate - but as the 'tidying' process was good gardening it was most satisfying. Opening our house once a year for 'heritage' week-end was another matter, as our 'salon' and bedroom were the 'star attractions'. It was a major mess clearance, people are so nosy. I drew the line at putting books on our bedside tables to make people think we were frightfully intellectual. They had to go up the interior staircase and down the outside one into the garden, so those areas had to be tidy too.

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Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 12:40 p.m.

It's all about the preparation behind the scences before going public, isn't it? They, the public, don't see the hours of effort required to direct their focus to what you want them to experience.

Valerie

Aug. 10, 2020, 11:24 a.m.

Hmm,if my life was a painting it would veer from Jackson Pollock to Painting by Numbers.I haven't signed it yet,so there's still room for improvement. As Ernest Hemmingway said of his books "If it reads easy,it wrote hard" ***

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Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 1:42 p.m.

That's so profound, Valerie! I like the joke about when they asked Ernest Hemmingway, "Why did the chicken cross the road." His answer (apocryphal I'm sure) was, "To die. "In the dark.. "Alone..." Happy little bunny! ***

Moss

Aug. 10, 2020, 12:46 p.m.

When I was quite poor and a single parent of a 3 year old, I hated the dreary brown ish patterned kitchen lino that we had inherited, when moving in. So, against all the advice of those who knew better, my daughter and I painted the lino white and "Jackson Pollocked" deep blue paint all over it, dripping and spattering, flicking and twirling with huge enjoyment. It looked fantastic and I am sorry that, when I finally afforded a stone floor and the lino was thrown out, that I didn't keep the part my girl had done, but the workmen had efficiently got rid of it before I could ask. A lovely memory and my daughter, now in her mid twenties, vividly recalls the occasion. We also painted the tired kitchen cupboards with different colours from tester pots; orange, yellow, turquoise and blue, each cupboard door a different colour from its neighbour, and they were very cheering too. The house is still quite anarchic and a place of creativity and I have learned to have no shame about it at all any more and I am increasingly brusque with people who, unasked, take it upon themselves to tell me what I 'should do' to sort it into something more conformist.

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Molly

Aug. 10, 2020, 1:10 p.m.

How lovely Lupin! And brave I must say. I would be worried that I would make a complete hash of it. I have plain white tiles in my kitchen and the plan was to paint a few different colours to brighten it up but I really don’t trust myself! I don’t want to have another problem to deal with so I will stay plain and boring for now!

Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 1:45 p.m.

What a bloomin' brilliant piece of your family history, Lupin. I have my favourite picture at work. It was from my youngest son's playgroup. The team put a big sheet of paper on the floor, then let the children dunk their feet in paint and run across the canvas. I call it, "Rampage!" The energy in it is amazing.

Lexi

Aug. 10, 2020, 2:01 p.m.

Lupin, how lovely. A beautiful memory. xo

Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 10, 2020, 2:44 p.m.

Dear Lupin, I think it’s wonderful that your daughter still recalls the fun you had together splattering everywhere on the floor with paint and those bright, breezy cupboards!! Such fun! I let Baby Bear decide what colours we could paint her bedroom when we first moved here, she chose 'under the sea' so the ceiling, the walls had all sorts of blues and greens and fish everywhere! Amazing and she loved it....but if a devil repainting it years later, but worth it to see her beautiful, happy face! I only wish you had kept a few pieces of the Lino for her...would have made great table mats!! Or a sculpture or smart wall art! <80)) Bear hugs xx

Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 10, 2020, 1:41 p.m.

Hi Lex, Great blog and got me remembering this: "never compare your insides to someone else’s outside!" To me this means what’s going on inside our heads, the turmoil we are often in, is then compared with someone who is bright and bubbly and is on Spacebook, Instagravy and Twitface showing off...and that’s all it is - a 'look at me and see how wondrous my life is'. Bet they’re just as normal as the rest of us! Your artistic friend is a wise Wol!! Thanks Lex, Bear hugs x x x

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Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 1:51 p.m.

*** BLESS YOU BEAROFLIDDLEBRAIN... just needed to SHOUT that! I knew there was a phrase sitting behind the inspiration for this blog and THAT was it!!!! I laughed out loud at "Twitface!" Huggzies! ***

Molly

Aug. 10, 2020, 2:47 p.m.

Lol Bear, this made me smile too, your names for social media, ha ha! How true though. We seem to think everyone else is having a good time, often they are not! And what about when someone says “if you had been through it, you would know” when the other person actually has been through it, you just didn’t know about it. I try really hard not to judge (although I know we all do) forgetting social media, it’s like that rude person we come across for example, (yes I know it’s sometimes me) I try now to think that we just don’t know what’s going on in their lives (I’m still not forgiving those that parade a fantastic life on social media, because actually I don’t care!!! Or maybe I do!!! Lol xx

Moss

Aug. 10, 2020, 1:44 p.m.

Oh Molly thank you! Perhaps you might try trusting yourself and your floor idea and seeing how it goes. Imagine feeling that lift of pleasure every time you walked into the kitchen. Then you might trust more and risk more and who knows where it may take you?! I took a brush and some old paint to my dirty white and rather stained kitchen cupboards, still the same ones, about 40 years old, last week and although I still have the higher ones to do, the lower ones are looking rather lovely, green and swirly, like wood grain, purely accidentally, a sort of distressed wood effect. And it was really fun to do. And hopefully all the things that somehow drip down them will now be less obvious!

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Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 1:53 p.m.

Everything you do, Lupin, is Art!

Molly

Aug. 10, 2020, 2:58 p.m.

Hi Lupin, I used to do a lot of painting. In my first flat a friend had a real simple technique. She had a scrunched up cloth and dipped it in paint and then literally dabbed it all over the wall. So I tried it in my bathroom, and the effect was amazing. Oooh another idea for the future, as I had forgotten about this. It’s easier than painting as you don’t actually have to paint! I’m thinking my bathroom here because it’s only small. Have you ever tried anything like that? It’s great when we get a good result. I’m just not fit enough these days but you never know....

Lexi

Aug. 10, 2020, 2:06 p.m.

Wonderful blog Lex! I am an orderly person. In fact I cannot leave the house unless everything is in its place. I realize now that it is a feeling of control: controlling the outside was a way for me to try and quell the chaos in my brain. I admire other people's messes and often when I look at homes I love the pile of books on the table and the floors, the teacups placed on shelves, the cats curled up on the lumpy sofas. I wish I could relax like that. To me their mess is the masterpiece. Perhaps one day xo

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Lex

Aug. 10, 2020, 2:41 p.m.

Hey Lexi, that's one of the most beautiful reframes I've ever read, "To me their mess is a masterpiece." How beautiful! xo

Molly

Aug. 10, 2020, 3:22 p.m.

Bless you Lexi. My mother is like this, I know it’s an insecurity/control thing but her house is perfect which has always put a lot of pressure on me. She makes it seem so easy, but owning my own house, it just isn’t! Although maybe some places are easier to maintain than others. For instance i live in an old house and all hers have been newly built. But that aside. A friend of mine had a father who was an alcoholic. She also had to have everything in place and if I went there for a meal, she couldn’t possibly wash up in the morning, she had to do it there and then. Tidy house, tidy mind maybe. Then of course people who hoard are also insecure, they perhaps feel comfort with all the belongings around them. My house is ‘lived in’ but not untidy or messy. I’m trying to forgive myself for the many jobs I haven’t done!! It’s getting the happy medium I suppose!! There is no right or wrong. Sorry got carried away there. It’s an interesting subject though isn’t it. How different things affect us in different ways. I don’t think I deserve to eat. Mmmmm. Love to you Lexi xx

Lexi

Aug. 11, 2020, 4:05 p.m.

Sweet Molly, sorry I didn't respond yesterday! It is interesting that you say you don't think you deserve to eat. I used to use those words all the time " I don't deserve....(fill in the blank). Like you I'm trying to find that happy medium. There is definitely no right or wrong in my book. xoxo

Salt Water Mum

Aug. 10, 2020, 7 p.m.

Lex, the video is fabulous. 'Love someone in the midst of their mess...' how lovely is that? V important for we parents of young kids and teens to love them in the midst of their mess. And how warm it must feel to be loved in the midst of one's one mess? I love the notion of the painter and her mess. No mess, no masterpiece. And the same applies to writers as well. No one sees the drafts upon drafts upon drafts. The stories and poems and novels begun with hopeful excitement that never quite made it. The many first chapters, first scenes and first verses crumpled up or tossed aside. We only see the finished novel, novella, book of poetry, short stories, screenplay and we marvel (as we should) at the completed project but there were hours and hours of drafts and edits and hair pulling and frustration and weeping... Super stuff Lex, Best wishes to all Moodscopers, swm x

Reply

Lex

Aug. 11, 2020, 5:06 p.m.

Thank you, Salt Water Mum! We weep before we rejoice, eh? x

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