Marianne Morris | Artist

Living Life in Full Colour

Attention is Everything

Abstract painting in blue, brown and bronze by Canadian Artist Marianne Morris

“Flow Interrupted”, 24×24″ Acrylic on Canvas.

My painting is not going well. I’ve been struggling with the same 5 canvases for going on 4 weeks now. I’m getting frustrated, and I’m feeling defeated. Not particularly helpful when I have a show to prepare for. I’m starting to panic, even though I’ve still got 5 months to prepare. Again, not helpful.

The painting above is “finished”. As an abstract piece, I’ve covered all my bases; Shapes, contrast, composition, colour. It’s quite possibly not actually finished… for although it works as a painting, I don’t get the feeling of calm I usually get when I look at a finished piece. Not sure it’s what I’m after, but at some point, I have to accept that this is what it wants to be and let it go. I can go back and change it in a few weeks if I can figure out what it is that bothers me. That’s always the hard part.

Part of my problem has been this feeling of restlessness that has settled on me in the past few weeks. I’ve been so easily distracted that I’ve found it hard to focus on anything. My days at work have been unproductive… I go home in the evening feeling like I didn’t get anything accomplished. Home hasn’t been much better. I spend hours in the studio trying to focus, only to have my paint dry on the palette while I’m reading comments on a Facebook post. I fear my studio is going to have to become technology free if I’m to get anything done, but I no longer have any “old school” ways to play music if I do. Maybe silence is what’s called for?

I know that this is just part of the creative process. It’s happened before, and it will undoubtedly happen again. I have to work through it. I need to pay attention to the work in front of me, calm the inner chatter, and block out the noise. I may step away for a week and do something else, just to reset. I need to find my center again, and then maybe I will be able to pay attention.


  1. I can so relate to everything you shared. When I start a piece I am so caught up in the excitement of it all. Most of the time my painting goes through an ugly stage but eventually I am always able to pull it from that to something I am starting to like. I am incredibly slow and very rarely am able to feel like my painting is ‘finished’ in one session, but then I really do not know what is missing or what it needs. Because I have no free time that means there is a week between each painting session. The problem occurs a week later when I attempt to go back to the painting. I look at the painting and really like most of it but am still left with the feeling that it’s just not done and yet I have no idea what is missing or what it needs. As a result I have at least 8 paintings just sitting here ‘waiting.’

    I also thing that when so much of it is really starting to look good there is an underlying fear that doing that ‘one more thing’ will ruin the painting . I call it painting paralysis.

    • Having that week between sessions is enough of a break to give you fresh eyes. It’s always better to have a break before you judge. My problem is the opposite… I may like it when I’m finished, but the next day when I look at it I can’t see why. I just go back and paint more… back and forth until I’m satisfied. And sometimes I have to break out the gesso if I can’t see a way to save it. I think a critique group would do me wonders, but my couple of attempts to form one haven’t worked. I’m still trying that one.

      • Thanks for your blog post! I am at a complete stand still !
        And not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel for a while. Accepting all this and planning baby steps forward. If interested in a critique group, message me.
        May the creative gods light your path 🙂

  2. My indecisivnes leads to an over load of oil paint .I know I should plan it all out before I start the painting.. And those areas are so obvious to me. .
    Will I ever get this right ?

    • I don’t usually paint in oils…. with acrylic I can just paint over something that doesn’t work. I don’t usually plan anything in advance either. I like to work from my gut. Could you try scraping back the areas that bug you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.