Stop Thinking, Start Doing

Stop Thinking and Start Doing

By Thomas Matthew Pierson


                While working in the studio I was caught pondering about how afraid I was to start working on a painting that I had not touched for months.  Approximately ten months back I had begun a painting to put in my daughters’ room. Something to show her how much I love her, and I wanted to show that through a painting.  Who would have thought that I needed to stop working on a painting because of the time demands of a newborn? In the end I could not maintain my work schedule and watch over my little bundle of joy.  I had to shelf the piece until my time freed up.                

                As I was saying, I was thinking about how cautious I was to make decisions on my piece and worried about making a mistake.  That is an ever-going thing for me as a creative. I am not speaking on behalf of other artists so I can not say that it’s synonymous. When I have feelings of self-doubt, worry and fear, I try to bury them into my subconscious.  Many reasons come to mind, one reason being that it does not do me any good to worry about something that has not happened yet.  It is also hindering me from pushing forward through my work.   If I stopped to ponder every possible solution to my artwork, I would never finish anything.

                That is why I let the act of doing take its course.  I know that action is better than inaction when I paint and draw.  Even still, I often cast doubt on myself, asking questions like “Was this right for the piece?” “Should I have used this color?”  “Is this the right shape or form for the composition?” I focus on the work and cross my fingers that the pieces fall into place.  Sometimes they don’t and I struggle to find a visual solution for my work, but I keep working until I feel content with the outcome of my painting. 

                This methodology does not just apply to painting and the arts.  It pertains to everything, writing, organizing the house, what restaurant to go to for dinner.   This is something that affects life choices, and goals.  Do you ever think about something you want to achieve?  Like weight loss? Fitness goals? Learning a new trade or skill?  Often the thought is more fulfilling than the actual act of doing it.  Thinking about these goals sparks a feel-good emotion in our mind. The reality is not as engaging, nor is it as satisfying.  Goals take time, effort and failure, for many that is a tough pill to swallow. Failing gives you the answers on what to not do, but it also provides you with new questions to venture towards.

                Thinking has its place, but you will never find answers to your questions if you muse over them indefinitely.  Think then act. Do not think and think alone.  Nothing gets accomplished, soon you have a hundred questions and not a single answer to any of them.  The best solution for all of this, is to work.  That’s why I work on my paintings regardless of my thoughts toward them.  It puts me in analysis paralysis.  Pretty soon, thinking about what to do is the work and not acting upon what I am thinking.  So, I say to you, just work.  You will improve, effort plus time equals improvement.

                Action is way more difficult to implement though. It is easy to think about your goals, your work, your life and what you want to achieve.  It is much harder to act on those thoughts, because that requires you to be uncomfortable.  No one wants to be uncomfortable.  I liken my paintings as a metaphor for my life.  The more uncomfortable I am, the better I feel, because that is where all my growth comes from.  So, I plunge head first into my paintings, forcing myself to be a little afraid of my paintings.   That is when I know I am in the right state of mind, a little bit uncomfortable, a little bit afraid, a little bit excited and forever growing.