After twenty years in the movie business in Los Angeles and NYC, Cynthia Wick traded Hollywood for the Berkshires—moving almost sight unseen to the village of Lenox with her husband and two sons. The move also represented a return to her true passion: making art. When you see her colorful abstracted landscapes, portraits and still lifes, it’s hard to believe she ever did anything else for a living. But she’ll be the first to tell you that accessing your own personal creative voice can be intimidating and scary. Here are some of Cynthia’s tips for fearlessly living a big, beautiful, creative life.
Never underestimate the power of baby steps. “When I left my movie business career and went back to painting, I realized I needed to start by working small or I’d panic. So I piled a fancy silver platter (a wedding present we never used) with blank watercolor postcards, some brushes, gouache, a garden rose in a jar, and set it on the breakfast table. I painted in little spurts while cooking dinner. I just started little by little.” Begin small. It takes the pressure off.
Get comfortable with the idea of failure.
It’s easy to get paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake. “It was a hard transition going from a big movie studio to my little studio, and I was plagued with self-doubt. After being successful in my business life, I was terrified of not succeeding as an artist. A friend had great advice. He said to tell myself each morning on the way to my studio that I was entering the house of failure. My brother even had a doormat made for my studio that read: The House Of Failure. Once I accepted that failure is a natural part of the creative process, I was ok. Success took on a different meaning; it meant just showing up and doing my best.”
Creativity is a muscle; it must be built up.
“I started going to the studio every other day for ten minutes to an hour and kept my expectations low. Over time, I began to see that for me getting into my studio was the hard part. Once I was inside, mixing colors and cutting paper, I was off and running and fully engaged. It’s essential to commit to the time it takes to create a practice.”
Create a feel-good ritual before you start.
“I have a daily practice that looks like this: I wake up, have coffee, and then meditate. Meditation is a huge part of my creative life; twenty minutes each morning to connect with myself and let go of all the voices that say, ‘You suck.’ Exercise and being out in nature are equally important for me. It’s amazing what a morning hike with my dog, Sugar, does for my serenity in the studio.”
Oh, and trust your gut.
“The only way to listen to your gut feeling is to get rid of the noise around you so you’re able to hear it,” says Cynthia. “And the more you listen, the stronger it gets. I have learned to trust my inklings at all costs.”
Be true to yourself.
“There are plenty of people who are better painters than I am. There are plenty of better draughtsmen. But no one can paint my experience. You can’t lose when you’re not trying to be someone else.”
Go with the flow.
“Invariably, my husband will wake up and find me up on a ladder in my flannel nightgown painting murals on the walls in our house,” explains Cynthia, who recently painted a bedroom wall a turquoise pattern glazed with silver. “Some days, it just seems like a better idea to paint walls,” she says. “It’s all art and the walls eventually lead me back to my studio”. So mix it up.
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