14 Apr

During the Creative Process

Two Questions

1. If no one ever saw anything you created, would you still create?

2. Are you letting your heart have what it really, really wants?

Believe it or not, the answers for these two questions are very connected.

The first question was posed to me many years ago and at the time it was very disquieting to me. The exact question was, ‘If no one ever saw any painting you ever did…would you still paint?’ and although that person was confident of their own answer, I was silent on the matter.

I didn’t know.
What I did know at the time was that I wasn’t separating out the creating part from the response of the mighty “they” in my life. In other words—it was one big ball of making a painting, entering it into a competition, hanging it in a show, being sensitive to what someone else’s reaction to it was. The actual doing of it (and how I felt when I was doing it) was buried underneath all the things that came afterwards. I was so vulnerable about the outcome of what I was creating that I allowed it to back flow into the process itself and impose its sense of carefulness. Careful not to take a chance. Careful not to risk too much. Careful not to listen too close to my own voice.

Carefulness has no place in the imagination OR in creating.

What was lost to me during those years was the uninhibited, go for broke, seize the moment, paint the day away for tomorrow we may die kind of thinking that opens the creative door wide.
How would it change what any of us are doing if we behaved as though whatever thing we created today would be swept away tomorrow before another soul laid eyes on it?

Would we perhaps bring more undiluted JOY to our work, a sense of freedom, a non-judgement frame of mind to whatever it is that we are called to do? Can our true work come forth if it’s done for the purpose of how others will perceive it?

Food for thought.

Which brings me to the second question of letting your heart have what it really, really wants.

If we change how we handle the first question by saying YES, it opens an immense door of possibility.

Yes, if no one ever saw anything I created, I would still create.

If it really didn’t matter, if the real JOY comes in the actual creating—not in its wake—then why oh why would we withhold our heart’s desires??

We wouldn’t of course. We would let our heart have at it! We would trust that it knew best. We would not be racing ahead in our mind to what someone else would think about our choices. If we decided that we wanted to start working in crayola crayons and doing it on brown paper bags we would not be sweating over how archival is it, will people buy something done on a grocery bag, or what will the all important powers that be have to say about us.

And that, as you might have guessed, is ONE very important place to arrive.
The place of letting your creative heart run wild.

Crazy with inspiration, grandeur, and possibility. Because no one (in theory) would ever see it, we are free to be us in our art!

“I feel assured I should write from the mere fondness and yearning I have for the 
even if my night’s labours should be burnt every morning

and no eye ever shine on them.”

John Keats in a letter to R. Woodhouse Oct. 17, 1818

It’s good to do a self-check on occasion.
Checking in to see why we are doing what we are doing.

Asking ourselves if what we are creating today were to disappear by dawn’s early light, would we do it the same or would we do it differently. Are we holding back or are we leaning into the fire?

I’m not saying I am there. My paintings? Yes. They feel more like me than they ever have. I have JOY every time I paint. That is Truth.

My writing? Still scares me sometimes.
The what if’s and what will they think tends to sit next to me, trying to make eye contact that would intimidate me from even the words I would write to you now.

If I live my life carefully, weighing my creativity against an unknown future critic, I forgo living a fully expressed life.

Seeing it here in writing makes it seem pretty simple.

Create like there is no tomorrow.
Live to your heart’s highest expectations.

Give your heart what it really, really wants.
Note: As to the image in this post—I had been playing in the water while staying lakeside in Louisiana. The piece below (catch those twinkling watercolors glittering in the sunlight– they always make me feel like a kid!) was done on the banks of the Cane River in a little town called Natchitoches.  The movie Steel Magnolias was filmed there.

Springtime in the south….nothing like it!!


Spring In Natchitoches, LA – Dreama’s Watercolor Journal Excerpt

Dreama Tolle Perry Log
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  1. Sherrie

    Do you have a class just for watercolor journaling?

  2. Noreen Dempsey

    The greatest freedom of my day is found in my world of writing. I escape the daily demands, fears. and stress and go inside myself to experience the joy and freedom of creativity. I have done this since I was a very young child. While it is nice to share some of these thoughts with others, it is not necessary. The time spent in this wonderful place is the reason for this journey.

  3. Dreama, so well said.
    I think it started for me when I would show my youthful efforts to my parents hoping to please them! I’m 80 years old, my parents are gone and I still feel that old tug to please the “grownups”
    If you don’t mind I think I’ll tack your message up in my art room.
    By the way, your words always speak to the deepest place in me.
    Let’s abandon the inner critique!

  4. Dreama, That was beautiful and so needed. I needed to hear that years ago. I fought the pressure for trying to paint what everyone else thought I should do but it was my own battle that was hard for me. Having a gallery of my own, artists would come in and say, “You are living your dream.” But I knew I wasn’t. I was forced to pay an outrageous rental fee with a contract that in the end proved to be a horrible decision because of the economy at the time. I stopped painting for about 7 years and started to write which was a good thing but God wanted me to do both. I have no visions of grandeur and now I can paint and write freely. The new ones need to know what you shared. I needed the reminder. Thank you!

  5. Dreama,
    I attended your workshop on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you for speaking so beautifully and directly to our creative souls.
    You are a gift.

  6. Nancy [Bebe] Bailey

    I’m soooo enjoying exploring your world ! I’ve just started your Provence course and am in love !! Worked on my first little painting today with not anywhere near right type of paint so haven’t finished it ,,,,but will tomorrow. I should receive my Golden Open Acrylics from Amazon tomorrow and my oil paints in a week or two……Having a great time ❤️😍 thanks soooo much. Have a great evening.

    • Dreama Tolle Perry

      I love hearing this Bebe!! Enjoy 😊💕

  7. Charleen Diliddo

    I agree with you….painting makes me happy too. I have always been creating something…crocheting, needlepoint, drawing, and painting. I am happiest when I am painting and around people that paint also.

  8. Dreama this comes at such an important time for me. The nature of my exacting color pencil paintings demands a preciousness as well as it in my style. But since I began teaching more and more I’m finding it not hard to inspire my students but harder to stay inspired to complete new work. Have you ever dealt with that? Teaching although I love it while doing it seems to zap my energies to fall in love the creating of my own work.
    With as busy as you are how do you nourish your soul to create at the same time?

  9. Rhonda Tolle-Beaman

    Dreama, love this! Words to live by! Words to create by!

  10. Jean Bradbury

    But what about art as a form of communication? If we make it just for ourselves and never show it we lose that very important aspect. Aren’t expressing the state of being human so that others can share the wonder of it all?

  11. Jean Bradbury

    But what about art as a form of communication? If we make it just for ourselves and never show it we lose that very important aspect. Aren’t expressing the state of being human so that others can share the wonder of it all?

  12. Elaheh Ghods

    I love so much beautiful great

  13. Dreama,
    Add my name to the list for a watercolor workshop! (In North Carolina if possible 🙂 There are many of us who would adore it!

  14. Renee

    You have asked two very important questions. I have recently decided to let go and have fun just for me, and not worry about the outcome and comments, but just enjoy the process! It feels so invigorating to release myself to create and to explore!
    Your words of wisdom and experience, continue to fill my mind with thought, and my heart with reflection. Thanks for writing from the heart and expressing yourself in your own style of your art!

  15. Mel Hicks

    I have a REALLY big request. Would you please do a workshop dedicated to watercolors? This may be a little outside of your box, but it would also inspire many of us to do more quick studies of things we see in every day life. I am the Academy Director for the Eastern Shore Art Center in the lovely “artsie” community of Fairhope, AL. Would love to host this workshop for you. Visit esartcenter.com to take a peak at our wonderful Art Center. I look forward to hearing from you.

  16. jobi

    Thank you for your wonderful insight, Dreama! It was easy to answer YES to the first question, so I guess it’s up to me to get busy creating from my heart. My hubs has been pondering what his passion will become when he retires soon, so I left your post on his desk this morning so he could benefit from it. He came out to my desk and said, Dreama can sure paint and WRITE! I know it will help him on his journey, too. We all truly benefit from your time and talent. You are much appreciated and loved! 🙂

  17. Linda Levine

    Every day I read lots of lovely platitudes…have a nice day, hang in there, follow your heart’s desire….and after awhile they don’t truly mean what they set out to accomplish. But I will keep this piece of yours, because it forces true EXAMINATION, and gets to the heart of the question…why do we paint? I will think about your words each day, and continue to paint with joy and in the moment. Linda

  18. Kami

    Hi, Dreama, but what if the toughest critique is the creator himself/herself:O/…

  19. Brenda

    I am a brand new subscriber, a self-taught, relatively new painter. I don’t yet consider myself an artist! I loved receiving your first email yesterday!! It hit me smack on top of my head! Last year we moved cross country. In the fall I took a class/workshop, hoping to connect to like-minded souls! Instead I got emotionally beat to death. I attended for six weeks – always working on the same painting. It wasn’t until my painting morphed into the instructors that she was remotely happy with my work. I didn’t attend the last two sessions. I felt worthless and completely without merit. Several months passed without me even entering my studio. My husband pointed out my sour mood to me. I started fiddling with paints again and my mood lifted. I realized that I paint FOR ME!! I don’t care if anyone else likes or approves (although good feedback does wonders for the ego). Your writing nearly made me weep. Thank you for putting yourself out there like you do! I loved it! I’m only sorry I hadn’t stumbled across it a long time ago!! I am so looking forward to your next email!! THANK YOU!

  20. Teri

    Well said!!!

  21. Ursula Marquardt

    Beautiful watercolor!
    And again – so enjoy your very inspirational writing – so true – you are true!

  22. Ursula Marquardt

    Beautiful watercolor!
    And again – so enjoy your very inspirational writing – so true – you are true!

  23. Hi Dreama, Wonderful post! Really got me thinking today as I get to work in the studio. I think I will have a fresher and more free attitude painting today, because I’m painting for me!

  24. Kim

    I loved this post, Dreama. Last Saturday I did a workshop for a group of fiber artists on listening to your heart and how that relates to our work individually but also the beautiful connections in workshops, retreats, etc. Thank you for helping to validate something that felt a bit out there!!
    I have been a subscriber for quite awhile. Am not a watercolor painter but am so moved by your words. Thanks for having such an impact on my life.

  25. june

    Your words from the heart resonated with me and in my heart and to my spirit, on such a deep level. Your thoughts and words and art always touch me and move me, inspire and motivate me with every post, with every painting…today’s thoughts and words went soul-mining and heart-mining even deeper still.
    I can answer a resounding ‘yes’ to the first question you asked, but to the second question, like many of us, while I yearn to get there, I find myself struggling to give to my heart what it is truly, deeply, really, really asking me for. But these are the important questions we need to ask ourselves, and more than even the questions themselves, we need to find the answers and give ourselves – our hearts and our spirits – are yearning for.
    Thank you for taking us along to the beautiful Louisiana – another part of the US I would love to return to. Although every part of the US has its own special and unique magic, there’s something about the south/southeast (as well as the southwest) that attract me. The sunny, warm, bright and happy watercolour you shared with us today brought a much-needed smile to my face. Beautiful, as always.

  26. I will read and reread your post of today. I heard it clearly in your recent workshop, and could loudly answer “yes” to the first question. I am ready for the second step, having only taken the first step (being able to answer question one) earlier this year. Today I add another large post-it in my studio: “I LET MY CREATIVE HEART RUN WILD!” Huge thanks Dreama. Keep writing and sharing.

  27. Sheri Hall

    Oooooeeee!! If you could only know how much your writing inspires my soul (i.e., mind, will and emotions), you would never again question yourself about it. Your own heart’s expressions through your hands — paintings and written words — would keep on flying into the hearts of countless others. So please continue to give your heart what it really wants and keep on sharing. Blessings, Dreama. Sheri

  28. Kim Guthrie Art

    Thank you..I needed to hear these words

  29. Carol Collier

    I always find your writings inspirational! My heart’s desire is to take a workshop with you, but I do watercolors and only a little acrylics. Any chance you’ll do a class where I can use those?

  30. Patti Vincent Art

    I love Natchitoches! So glad you found it.

  31. Valee Sewell Penn

    Dreama, You speak from your soul to my soul. Thank You for being so brave and letting your heart run wild and go where it wants to go!

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