En Plein Air

En Plein air.

You paint, or perhaps not, and you would want to paint outside. Never done it before but somehow you feel the calling. So you gather your newly bought field easel, your paint brushes and smaller tubes of paint because you prepared yourself well and don’t want to carry extra load, and head of to a local spot of beauty to paint. The weather is awesome, the birds are singing, butterflies are playing around and you feel good. You prepare your mini pallet, have a quick drink of water and are ready to start. Then it hits you, you never done this before. How do you start? You have so many years of experience, you know your stuff, but somehow, sitting here with the warm breeze around your neck, you get stuck.
Recognize this? Trust me, you are not the first, or the only one, or the last one to discover that painting outside is quite different from painting in your studio.

In this article I hope to explain a bit of why this is happening (you will see that it is rather expected) but more on how you can get the best out of painting outside.

A bit of history.
Painting outside, or En Plein Air as the French started calling it, is not as old as you might expect. It was all thanks to two things. First of all the invention of oil paint. Although the use of oil paint was generally considered to start during the 15th century by the Dutch painters, it was much earlier that oil was used to make a paint. Several cave paintings have been found with pigments concealed in walnut oil. Also during the medieval period, monks were using linseed oil for their book paintings.
Second was the invention of a carrier for oil paint, which was done by the American painter John Goffe Rand in 1841. He used pig bladder combined with glass syringes to transport oil paint. Due to his invention, a whole new area of painting arose. It is believed that Pierre-Auguste Renoir who said, “Without tubes of paint, there would have been no Impressionism.”
Tube display museum
Makes sense. Impressionist painters became known for their colorful, wild and, as the movement got its name, very impressionistic in approach. Many impressionist are recalled for saying that the main goal of painting this way was to set a true impression of that specific moment of the day. Using only that time that you could witness the splendor of what you were seeing and trying to catch this with paint on canvas.

Any of you, who have experienced the joy of sitting outside and feel the challenge of catching that specific light, the ever-changing colors, the temperature, and trying to put this within a given time on your canvas, will recognize this.

But what makes it so different from working in a studio? The most obvious is, of course, the fact that you’re not inside but outside working. Although expected, the influences of being outside, the wind, the sun, the noises and naturally the occasional rain, can have a major effect on how you sit there trying to paint. Being in your studio is very different. You are able to adjust pretty much everything to make your working space as pleasant and as constructive to your work, as possible. Try this with that hard to reach rocky spot behind a big tree next to a riverbank.
And yet, more and more painters, when discovering the magic of painting outside, get seriously hooked to it.
To work outside, it is best to leave any expectations you have on what to expect, what it will be or what you plan to paint, at home. Why? Because it always will be different.
Once you found a nice spot, accepted all the bugs flying around and ending up in your paint, and mastered to decide what you want to paint, you soon discover the agony of changing light. Trust me, even on a beautiful sunny day with a clear blue sky without a breeze, you will found yourself in an ever changing light-scape. The painting you start will never be the same as the scenery appears to you at the end of your capturing moment.

Some practical advices.
Now a day the art supply business seem to know exactly what you need to reach your goal as an artist. If it was only that simple. Absolutely, some wonderful gadgets out there can make your painting-outside-experience much more do-able and pleasant. But don’t make the mistake, and I’m sure you will or already did, to think that expensive, state of the art equipment will ensure great painting. Sorry. It will be much more likely to know that it will be your experience, your persistence and endurance that will ensure some beautiful results.
Nevertheless, some equipment are inevitable to work outside.
To start you will need an easel. And even the need for it is debatable. These days you can buy a lightweight aluminum easel that is easy to carry. Also small easels from wood are nice and you have the famous box-easels that combines an easel with your paint box. Handy but a bit heavier.
Then the decision is whether you want to stand or sit. For me, standing is great but sitting is greater. I get easy tired in my legs, which makes it uncomfortable to paint. Therefore, a foldable chair is handy.
Take enough rags or pieces of cloth. I noticed, considering you will have to clean your brushes at home, that it’s so handy to have lots or rags to clean, cover and clean some more while you out in the fields.
Another thing to take in consideration is where you going to paint on and how you’re planning to transport it. Near my hometown, there is a group plein air painters (they go every week no matter the weather) whom ingeniously use a system with which they slide several panels in a box. How nifty is that. However, I really advice you to make a system that will work for you to transport you work. I myself came up with a sort of cover for the painting. I always work on linen. I tape the canvas on a fixed size board and have another board, from which the sides are made higher, that is than used as a cover on the painting. That immediately brings us to another practical tip: the size of your painting.
If you’re planning to go by car and know that you’re going to stay close to your car, the size of your painting is pretty much the size your car can handle. However, if you consider to have a nice stroll before finding a good spot that will embrace every fiber of your being to yell at you that you have to paint this, you might want to think twice before taking up a 1 by 1 meter canvas. So, in general, small sized panels or canvas are easy to carry, easy to work with and easier to handle. Because, let’s not forget, the idea of ‘en plein air’ is to make and finish a painting on the spot.
So much for practical tips.

Now some technical tips and suggestions.
If you ever took the time to examine the impressionist works, you soon will notice that there is a specific use of colors. In fact, certain colors are in a lot of cases not used.
If you walk through the countryside and glans over the trees, the nearby bushes, the hills in the distance and the far away village skyline, as an experienced plein air painter, you will immediately distinguish the different pallet of colors. However, as a typical studio painter you might find yourself wondering how those impressionists came to those, sometimes extreme, choice of colors. To understand this, you have to understand the following. Before the 19th century, during the classical approach in painting, it was general knowledge to paint the exact, or so we thought, color of the object as to emphasize a most convincing resemblance to reality as possible. Due to the fact that till than almost every artist was working in a studio, and natural outdoor daylight was not much available, it is not surprising to see, indeed, almost only colors that we can recognize within our marge of acknowledgeable colors. However, and this was very well understood by the impressionists, when outside, colors seem to change in any given circumstances. Not only by the change of light but also by the influences of atmosphere, distances and humidity. In addition, you will see if you take some time to sit outdoor looking at a fast landscape, that colors are, indeed, vibrating, and, more important, not as conform as one might think. The impressionist understood this by dividing colors again in warm and cold colors. By using this knowledge in a practical use you immediately understand why they used so much blue and green for shadows (cold) and bright yellow, orange and red for the more sunny and bright parts (warm) in the painting.

If you take this knowledge with you the next time you embark yourself on an adventure to go out and paint outside, and I encourage you to do so and I encourage you even more to, before you start your painting process, to take some time to just sit and absorb what you see. Go beyond the expected colors, beyond what you know you see and beyond what you think, you see. Just observe and take it in.

Painting outside, ‘en plein air’ is indeed an adventure. A meeting between you and what you observe, you and what you think is outside you. However, if you let go of these pre-programmed believes and just observe as a child, you will see that colors are indeed more than meets the eye.

Feeling inspired? I hope you go out there and start painting what you see. Let me know.
Also, if in the neighborhood, you can join with one of the plein air workshops I will be given this summer.
More information (in Dutch though) can be found here: www.schidercursusarnhem.nl

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The Love for Ourselves

Our sense, believes on self-acceptance, our ability to have a certain degree in experiencing love for ourselves, is greatly depending on the ability to become aware and eventually free ourselves from earlier created mind-games, beliefs and convictions.
For example, we all have a certain idea about beauty. And I don’t mean the commercial kind of beauty that is torpedoed at us. I’m talking about the beauty that we try to aim for as individuals and the one in which we compare ourselves with our direct surrounding. We admire or dislike others by the mere capacity of liking ourselves. How many of us can honestly say that they found themselves totally and absolutely beautiful? Not many would be my guess. But did you know that when you are scanning around the people around you, unconsciously you are scanning from your own pre-programmed mind-set to seek out and categorise every person that is around you? Did you know that every time you look at another person, all kind of systems are set in motion to figger out where this person is fitting in? Most of the time we use three different categories: worse, same, better.
Here is an example:
For me, my teeth, next to the fact that I thought I was excessively skinny, had always been that part of my body that I didn’t like. When I was young, I hated my teeth. It was ratter late, in my thirties that I, with the encouragement of my wife, had my teeth straighten out. It was after doing so that I kind of had peace with them but still, not in love with them. However, I realized that I was scanning, with a strong comparing program, other people and judging them by their teeth. If someone had better teeth than mine, I felt insecure, if someone had similar teeth as mine, I felt equal. If they had worse teeth than I did, I felt superior. At that time, I wasn’t conscious of my self-created mind-game at that time. I did however, notice the unpleasant and uncomfortable feelings I got while running this ‘program’ on other person and putting them in a labelled box. In addition, the unpleasant stupid side effect of this programming was that, once this person was put in a particular box, I couldn’t get them out anymore. The only option was to ignore the whole scanning process or to take any means to help me avoid having contact with these people. Well, you know that is a task doomed to fail.

Over the years, while listening to others talking about their faults, their dislikes or admiration to others, I learned that this was a program everyone was using to put themselves and others in a category by placing a well-designed and proven scanning system upon people which followed by putting them in a pre-determined box. Always using the same determination: worse, same, better. Whether it was hair, teeth, face, lips, boobs, butts, feet or toy, cloth, shoes and even behaviour…whatever, it was always judged in the same manner. And, I’m sure that we all had this same uncomfortable sense while it was happening, while we were running our well-designed scanning device, but were to unconscious and afraid of making the right decision. We didn’t understand what was really happening, not conscious of the mind-games we were creating, just accepting, no…taking it as something normal. Everybody does it, so why start asking questions and doubt ourselves even more. Yep, I’m sure this sounds familiar to you.
But why? Why did we start this in the first place? How come we took this as normal and not the fact that we are able to make conscious choices that will make us more involved in our own life?
Because we didn’t learn this. We didn’t learn about these qualities in the first place. We learned to follow the crowd. But what if, we did teach ourselves to become conscious of our own mind-games? What if we are able to consciously choose our thoughts, our beliefs and most important our direction of focus? It would mean that, for one, we wouldn’t be slave to our mind-game habits. It would mean that we can and are able to make conscious choices that would involve us (more) fully in our own lives. That’s a grand thing now, isn’t it?
But how do we do this?
It is as simple as it is complex and it definitely isn’t coming overnight. It take commitment, perseverance and courage.
Really? Why does it have to be so hard? Isn’t there an easy way for this? Like an app or so? Yes, it is expected that we want it to be easy and pre-made for us. That has always been the way before. All our life we took things pre-chewed, pre-existing, pre-known and pre-done. We were oblivious about the whole concept of consciousness. We didn’t learn to really feel and think consciously for ourselves. And now, because we didn’t learn this from day one, it makes it a bit harder to do this when we have packed ourselves with all kinds of handy habits, mind-games and well programmed settings. They are now well settled and deep in our system. The moment you start to steer them up they will rebel and try to dig themselves even deeper.
Then why would I even try?
Because you know, you want to! You know, while reading this, that you feel this little but strong voice yelling at you from deep down that tells you that it wants to get out. This little voice is you!

Okay…so, how do we do this?
Good, now we can get started. As I said before, it is a fail-fall-down-and-get-up-and-start-again procedure. The deeper you start digging, the harder the resistance will be. That’s okay. Don’t let this distract or discourage you. It merrily means you are doing damn well. Trust that.
The best thing is to do this together with others. Why? Because doing this with others will enable you to really put things into practise. You can do this alone, of course, but doing it together with people of whom you know are in the same process will fasten the cycle and each individual process. Also, and this is just as wonderful and important, doing this together with others might give the circumstances that you or the other encounter an issue that is really hard to handle. At a certain point, you might feel or think that you really dislike that person for hitting you so hard on that sensitive spot. And yet, this is one of those beautiful moments that comes to you as a gift to really let go of what was always keeping you from being free. We often see those moments as irritating and annoying but in reality; these are the little diamonds that were placed there for you to find on your path of life.
The True Nature Seminar gives that opportunity. A one-day intensive seminar, which takes place in the Netherlands several times a year. In this seminar, you will get in touch with your true nature, your qualities and will start to explore your own mind-games. You will be given the tools to change the old mind-sets to a free and non-conform state of being. I invite you to join this seminar. Not only will it be a great opportunity to give yourself a meaningful gift, it also is a beautiful gathering of loving people who all want the same thing: feel and experience love and joy again in their lives.
More information about this seminar you can find here:
http://inspire-encouraged.com/seminar.html

In this seminar you will have the opportunity to get familiar with the use of the following five powerful tools. With these tools you can change, alter and even get rid of old patterns, believes and mind-sets. However, and more important, it gives you the ability to train your consciousness and help you in choosing your choices more deliberately. In each case, it is to help you to find and practice a more and focussed self-love:

– FOCUSED THOUGHTS. Focused thoughts is a method in which you learn to channel your flow of thoughts. This will help you to create a higher focus and ability to deliberately choose your thoughts. By detaching ourselves from the never-ending flow of thoughts, we create an inner space to work from. With the right focus, a powerful chemistry will take place that gives us the ability to create a different reality and awareness.

– MIND SETTING. Mind setting is a way of resetting your mind. For this, we can use auto-suggestion. For the most part, we let ourselves be dwelt by everyday happenings. Because we ‘listen’ to all these different information’s that are thrown at us, we create a reality based on that information. However, when we realise that it is us who are the creators of our experiences, we can start shaping a new mindset. This can occur spontaneously. Most of the time this is a profound moment of awareness. It literally can cause an enlightenment sensation in which you suddenly realise you don’t have to fight anymore or a deep sense of oneness is felt. This, we might be able to call an altered mindset.

– AUTO SUGGESTION. Auto suggestion is a method where we learn to repeat on daily basis deliberately chosen thoughts, words and generate matching feelings to create a new pattern of thinking. Repetition will make the new thoughts sink in our ‘system’. However, it is very important to involve a matching emotion to secure the new chosen thoughts in our system.

– FAITH AND CONFIDENCE. Faith and Confidence is perhaps one of the more important ingredients for successfully altering a mindset. An altered mindset requires a strong confidence in ones own capability and a immovable faith that whatever is wanted will happen. Faith isn’t the same as trust. Faith is stronger, has much deeper roots. You can trust something without having faith in it. Faith and Confidence are both accessible through the use of auto-suggestion.

– DIRECT TOUCH. Direct touch is a beautiful exercise to get in touch with one’s own voice of the heart. It also is a great tool to discover your life purpose. When we are able to hear our hearts voice, it is as if we suddenly hear our own truth. It really can be an emotional encounter to suddenly get the information about you from you.

 

Are you interested in Inspire & Encouraged?
Feel free to contact me about the True Nature Seminar or any other topic.

With love, light and courage,

Alexander.

 

The Flower with four leaves

…a little story about being, choice, and awareness…
Once, there was a big tree. This tree had many flowers. They were beautiful white and all of them had four leaves. All but one. This one flower had five leaves.
The fact that this single flower had five leaves instead of four made it very special. It made this flower different from all the other flowers. At least, that’s what she made herself believe in the end. At first she didn’t know that she was different. She was just there, together with all the other flowers, being a flower and not aware of any sort of difference. But this big tree had an amazing ability. It was giving each flower the ability to think.
So, these flowers were all thinking the same thing: they thought they were beautiful. They all thought that their leaves were the most beautiful. That the yellow buds where complimenting the ivory white leaves and that having four leaves was the best amount a flower could have.

And this one flower with five leaves? She was looking just the same. She as well had a beautiful yellow bud and her leaves were beautiful ivory white as well. She had even five of them. But for all the other flowers this was strange. Why did she have five leaves? Why not four? And why was she different? They didn’t understand. So, they started to talk about her. They were telling each other that she was strange and awkward looking. And sometimes, after a period of hurtful silence, they laughed out loud and made jokes about her. Only because this flower had five leaves instead of three.

You can imagine what happens next. This flower started to feel sad and alone. She didn’t understand why all the other flowers didn’t like her. She didn’t do anything wrong.
More and more she started to close her leaves. Why wouldn’t she? Every time she would open her leaves, all she was getting were jokes and laughter from the other flowers.
And so, after some time, this flower became so sad that it started to wish that it was just like all the other flowers. She didn’t want to feel this. She wanted to feel loved. She wanted to be part of the rest. She wanted to be just white with four leaves instead of five.
And after some time she decided to change something about herself. Because she was now convinced that she was not beautiful. She was not like the others and therefor not as beautiful as they where. Now, she would make herself more beautiful. So, one night, she took all her courage and changed the colour of her five leaves from white to pink. It was really beautiful indeed. The flower was hoping that all the other flowers would see it and would find it so beautiful that they would love her and accept her. But instead, when the other flowers woke up the next morning and saw the new, pink leaves from this special flower, they started to laugh even louder. They were saying it was ridiculous. Why would she draw even more attention to herself? She was already weird. This was hurting the flower very much. She didn’t understand. Why would all these flowers be so mean? Why couldn’t they just be nice to her?
She became so sad and felt so alone that she closed her leaves for three days. Even on a beautiful sunny day, she didn’t want to open her leaves. She could hear the flowers around her chat and laugh, but was too afraid to open herself again.
Then, one night, she did something very daring. Something so drastic that all the other flowers would see that she is just like them! At midnight, when all the flowers were closed and asleep, she painfully forced one of her five leaves to fall off. It was hurting a lot. It was, as if she took a piece from herself, and threw it away. Silently, and with great sorrow, she watched how her leaf fell to the ground.

The next morning, when all the flowers woke up and started to open themselves for the first sunlight, she was full of anticipation to see if the flowers would notice what she did. And believe me, they did. They saw it. All the flowers were looking at that one leaf lying on the floor. All the flowers where watching her not knowing whether she did this on purpose or if it was an accident. Now she was the same. Just like them. There was no more difference between them and her. Immediately they became all very, very silent. It was as if they lost their voices. Not one of these flowers dared to see a word.

Then, something very special happened. From one moment to the next all the flowers started to lose their leaves. The floor beneath the tree became all white from all the leaves that were falling down. It was a real spectacle to see. For several minutes it was raining beautiful white leaves. It was a sight to see. But now, all the flowers were leafless. All but one! One flower did not lose her leaves. This flower, whom desired more than anything to be accepted, to be just like the other so she could feel loved, was the only one left with four leafs. She stood out. Again. She became special. Again!

Selfish in Nature

We are in nature selfish.

I wrote an article before on egocentric and selfishness. But as you can see I found it necessary to elaborate on this subject.

One of the first things we learn as we grow up from toddler to adolescence to adult is that we shouldn’t be selfish. We should think of others first before we may think of ourselves. We all know the sweet selfishness of the young toddlers when they take whatever they want, don’t want to share and make a whole commotion when another child is taking away their toy. And then we, the adults, do our utmost best to convince this little child, which has no clue what so ever on what you’re talking about, that it is not nice if you are not sharing. Of course we believe we do this with the best intentions and with the convincement that we are making a better person out of this child. It’s for his/her own good and benefit.
While for some part this is true, the intention can be sincere, most often the true motivation for adjusting this behaviour comes from our own childhood where we were being taught that sharing is a must and not liking that someone is taking away your toy is bad. Throughout our lives we are being believed, taught and convinced that selfishness is a bad thing. People are being praised, idolised because of their evidently selflessness while others are virtually being out casted for their supposing acts of selfishness.
And although, again, the intention for this believe might be sincere and coming from a good and healthy idea, the outcome is rather different from an actual lived attribute that is fully understood.

It is true that selfishness can be shaped in any form you want. It is true that you can use selfishness to practice an egocentric lifestyle. But what about self-love? Is self-love evenly to selfishness? I would like to say no but can imagine there is some clarification needed.
When you do a quick research about the meaning of selfishness, egocentric, self-centred or even narcissism, you will soon find that all these terms are described as a characteristic that most people would like to avoid or at least not to be judged on.
The consequences of this division, this need of classification of characteristic attributes, is that pretty everything is quickly thrown on this stack of interpretations.
From this stack I would like to take this one cart; self-love.

True love comes from loving yourself first.
Does this sound familiar? It’s a phrase you hear often these days. On social media for sure you’ll find that one of your friends has posted a beautiful photo with a similar text in it. Loving your self is a must these days. Gosh, there is a predicament. Love yourself but at the same time you need to avoid being selfish.
honestly, I don’t care much about all the designations. I do care, though, that you might feel obliged to hold back on loving yourself just for the sake of not being labelled selfish.
Self-love is a virtue. A self-given quality! Isn’t that a beautiful phrase? Self-given quality.
It already makes me happy by saying it.
But what does self-love mean? For sure it doesn’t mean that you put your own interest above others. Although sometimes you need to do so. And here we have to go back to the previously mentioned designations.

It is in no way possible to distinguish human behaviour in any sort of classifications. When you choose to live on this planet, you did so with the consciousness of freedom. Free in making choices, free in interpretation and free in how and what things mean to you. Classification, uniformity or designations are tools to make things understandable. They are not, by all means, laws to live by. All the words in the category selfish, egocentric, etc. have a general given explanation. Not to give you an ultimate law of how it is but to generally explain what is meant with using these words. It is so important to discover your own conclusion, your own meaning to certain given qualities. Such as self-love. You have an enormous valuable, rich and elaborate dictionary to your disposal, called ‘your heart’. If from anything you want to know whether feel true about it, whether it is something honest to you or a given truth, ask your heart. Feel what your heart tells you, for trust me it will not come to you in beautiful intelligent phrases that you can understand using your brain. It is that soft tone of heart, that utterly pure but oh so serene sensation that you get when being on the right path. That feeling of joy that you only experience when you speak your truth.
These are all forms of expressing self-love. It can include as many different ways of expressing as there are people. There is no one way. There is only your way!
Self-love can mean that you give yourself the liberty to make mistakes. To fender through life never really knowing who you are or what you want from life. It can include that you willingly and consciously choose to live alone. That you deliberately decide to think of yourself before others just for the sake of learning to love yourself. It honestly is beautiful to explore the love for yourself. Give yourself room, give yourself ability and perhaps for most; give yourself the pleasure of making mistakes. As I mentioned before in previous post, you have nothing to live up to. There is absolutely nothing you have to achieve! Nothing you have to earn or do before you can be what you want to be.
You are already complete!

FINDING YOURSELF, LETTING GO AND TAKING CONTROL.

Finding one’s self has become one of the most recalled things to do over the years.
A number on your bucket list. A thing you have to do.

Whether you took that conclusion yourself or you were inspired to do this by a spiritual movement or teacher, maybe even by the circumstances at work. It seems that where ever you go this topic is spoken of one way or another.

But at the same time we want to have security and are often confronted with the difficulties of letting go of all that we love and is giving us a sense of security. We want to have a life according to certain standards in which we feel safe, secure and have enjoyable and pleasant experiences. Can these two things be combined in harmony?

It is true that there is something compelling in the quest of finding the truth about who and what you are. By knowing who you are and even by knowing what you are, you most likely will know your purpose for this chosen life. And having a sense of purpose is seen as an enormous gift. Another number on your bucket list.
But what is your motivation for wanting to know who or what you are? Is it the need for security? Or is it unexplainable inner call that is telling you to go and find yourself? And is purpose in life a fixed thing or does it change while being practised? Does it all even matter?

An important, let’s call it ingredient, that will come your way on this road of exploring who you are, is the necessity for letting go and to go with the flow.
Why is this so relevant?
Something I noticed over the years when being in contact with people who seem to be in peace, to a certain level, with whom they are and seem to have a clear vision of their purpose in life, is that these people are most of the time open to change. They don’t hold on to a certain idea of how things should be but more flow and act on what is relevant for that moment. This can be interpreted in little moments but as well in relatively longer periods of time. For example, with jobs and undertakings.
It shows us that nothing is fixed. Nothing is written out, secure or certain. We crave for safety, security and certainty and are often in total loss when we are confronted with anything out of our control.
Let’s look at this for a moment: control. We use this word easy enough to imply that whatever went out of control is out of our control.
But are we supposed to be in control? Control over what?
This is a very important question. And the answer might be seen as a contradiction but it isn’t.
Ask yourself why you think you need to control. what would be the answer?
Is it because you feel that certain events happen ‘to’ you instead of ‘by’ you? Or because we are conditioned with the idea that bad or unpleasant things are always out of our intention because nobody wants things to happen that make them unhappy?
Or is it the idea that if you create control as much as possible over situations that you might at least have a bit of influence on how thing go as to give yourself the idea that you protect you and your surrounding from bad things to happen.
These questions aren’t easy to answer and will differ from one person to another. But to create some sort of desired change in this we need to accept one important thing:

Focussing on things that we do not want to happen will empower those things in happening.
What does this mean in short? It means that we are responsible for all that happens within our personal experience. All attention we give to events we want to avoid will eventually take us to an experience in which that what is being avoided will be expressed according to an appropriate need. Just as the attention we give to events we do want to happen will take us to a matching experience.

And this is where you do need to take control!
Not to protect yourself from what you don’t want but to create what you desire. That is basically the only control you will need to take. And you will soon discover that this kind of control isn’t as stressful, tiresome or demanding as the previous kind of control.
The flipside of this coin is to just go with the flow. This is deliberately choosing to live your life unconsciously. Going with the flow is a recommended thing to do but it is sometimes misplaced by putting yourself in the role of a victim of circumstances. Going with the flow is definitely not that. Going with the flow means that you consciously take full responsibility for your thoughts and actions and accept all consequences coming from your thoughts and actions.
We can call this consciously and deliberately taking control over your life in which you consciously and deliberately create your own reality.

How is this related to finding yourself?
Something more pressing here is to try to answer this question:
Who is it that you’re trying to find? Probably you will answer by saying that you hope to find yourself. Of course. But who or what is that? Really, try to focus on this question, who is it that you are trying to find?
Don’t get me wrong, I do encourage you to start this quest in finding yourself. But I would like to start by rephrasing the intention; start being who you are.
Finding yourself implies that you either lost yourself or never where yourself. Gosh, do you feel the anxiety and desperateness in this statement? Please read this article I wrote some time ago about acceptance.

Just as going with the flow is an important ‘ingredient’ for giving yourself the space to be who you want to be, so is acceptance. Don’t start your quest by first listing all the things in yourself that you are not cool with and then find an equivalent to replace it. Just skip this step and jump immediately to the process of taking yourself, seeing yourself and accepting yourself just and fully as you are! Now at this very moment.
Finding yourself is illusive! It will be a start of a never ending quest in which you eventually will discover that you really already are who you have been trying to find.
Being who you are, on the other hand, is an absolute must to fulfil this life that you chose to live.
The common mistake made, or better to say confusion, is to think that you first have to know who you are (by finding yourself) before you can be who you are. Wrong!
You do not even have to know who you are to actually be! In some cases, especially taken from a Buddhist perspective, it is considered as a great obstacle to wanting to know who you are. Being is not knowing! Knowing is not being! Understanding who or what you are, on the other hand, is coming from the heart and is dipped in loving intentions. This understanding comes from intellect and heart working together. Knowledge and love hand in hand. Love for yourself in all its imperfect perfection and insecure security!
‘to be or not to be’ van William Shakespeare, although coming from a different perspective does says it all. To be fully alive, to accept, to love and to fully give yourself the liberty to be who you want to be. Or, not to be and live your life according to assumptions, expectations and unconscious circumstances in which you feel you are the ball that is played by something else then yourself. In other words, not alive but dead.

We, as energetic nun-corporal beings, are complete. Directly connected to the source, which for some is god or the universe, we are indeed complete. But as corporal human beings we chose for a life of great contradictions and sometimes almost diabolic circumstances in which we develop an immense strong craving for security. We must learn to develop and master the harmonic use of our heart with our intellect. Both are still and often divided and seen as two opposites. But nothing could be further from the truth, they are both yours and neither one of them is to be denied in its existence. Use them naturally and intuitively.

WHY JOY (IN PAINTING) IS SO IMPORTANT

Over the years, besides teaching about painting I try to make the students aware of everything that is involved in the process of painting, how ones ability to become one with the moment has a strong influence on the success. One particular thing though, always seem to a main obstacle: the struggle to reach a certain aim. And in most cases times I tell my students how important it is to have fun in what they’re doing. I thought I could elaborate on this a bit.

Often, and this doesn’t only occurs with those who start painting, during a painting process you can find yourself coming to a point where you feel that you are stuck. This can have several different causes. For example not understanding certain technique, blocked by trying to much to understand what it is that you are painting, being convinced that you just can’t do it or any other circumstrances that implies that things are not going the way you want it. It is true, and I would be the last one to say it’s not, that getting a decent sense of technique, knowledge on material and to know at least the basics on what paint and medium does while working with it, is inevitable for learning the art of painting. With everything you wish to achieve there comes a time you will have to be on the learning side of the table to fill yourself with any given and available knowledge on what it is that you want to achive. And overcoming that feeling of being stuck or being blocked is, just as learning a specific technique, a attribute that can be mastered.

Painting should be a joy. The whole process should fill you with happiness, joy! Isn’t that a strong statement that implies that without it…well, you might as well give up. No. it is quite the opposite. But, to be clear, it is not the hilarious and excited kind of joy. More a inner happiness and sense of peace.
How many times did you experienced this feeling that you completely lost track of time, forgot where you are or who you are and was absorbed by the process of painting? And how many times did you experience that you where blocked? Couldn’t get what you wanted, seemingly having totally lost that long desired and appreciated ‘touch’. How many times did you experience that anger, that uncontrolable feeling of throwing that painting across the room? Both are magical moments which, with a paradoxale twist, are entwined together.
But how do you get yourself (back) in that zone of enjoying the whole process? How do you get yourself from outraged to serene calm and enjoying the process?

Well, if you’re indeed as angry that even the fires of hell don’t seem to upset you anymore, I think you indeed better take some distance from your process and have a good cup of relaxing tea. The idea is to not let yourself enter a state of frenzy. How? By cultivating one important espacts in the painting process: JOY. How do we do this? For one thing by focussing on the process only. Not on what it has to become. Not on how detailed it has to be and not on how many more layers, time and effort it needs before it’s perfect. No. Stop bothering yourself. You will get there anyway. Don’t rush yourself by focussing on the irrelevant stuff. Focus on what gives the most pleasure, the most joy: In this case Painting!! And I’m sure that this isn’t so hard for you. Because you choose to paint, to learn about painting, techniques and stuff, because it gives you so much joy.

It is the same with all the other stuff in life. I know, that when you are learning it might feel that this natural state of being in the flow and enjoying the fact that you don’t have to think about what the best approach is for this particular subject you want to paint, is hard to reach. But it isn’t. It isn’t your knowledge that will give you joy. It isn’t the experience that will give you joy. It is your own mindset that makes you choose. So choose to focus only on the process of painting. And this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to study hard to gain the appropiate know how, this means that this process includes the studies you make to learn, to make something your own or to understand matter. All those things should be done with the joy of the process. It is the same with drawing an object. Once you try to interpretate the object as something you can understand logically you will start to make weird mistakes. You disconnect yourself from the object by trying to understand what it is. But once you let this interpretation go and just look, you will amaze yourself by drawing exactly what you see.

So go out there and have fun! Enjoy whatever it is you’re doing! Really…!!! Do it!!