The Beaver Archetype

You have been so successful in your work life: building community, building wetlands. You have been so successful in your niches, you have forgotten what it's like to feel drawn to something that you KNOW is within your skill set + totally doable yet - you just can't find the door into practice.

You are so busy creating community! Give into your impulse to make art just-for-fun: like a beaver who follows their urge to gnaw saplings, you too can provide increased resilience and diversity of experience to nurture your busy-ness practice and community.

Working with what you have (to someone who bought brushes, paint and canvases):

There is the vague desire to paint, to paint well, to have a deeply meaningful - spiritual embodiment level practice - but it is one big thing symbolized by the materials waiting for you.

And you bought them because you KNEW you need to paint.

I want you to have your own practice, that's allowed to evolve. The following suggestions are a door, your entry point. Rebel against them, embrace them, prove me wrong. Whatever works!

Make a step each day toward completing a painting.

Process over result: to make a result you can honestly embrace

For optimal time usage, make as many decisions as possible prior to painting.

This will help you circumvent the fight or flight response. One painting is a number of much smaller steps, five minutes here and there - a tweak to how you go through your day, what you pay attention to.

Notice what you notice.

  • decide color vibe ahead of time, what colors are you pulled toward now, keep it limited to begin

  • mix the palette as its own session, preserve it well (assuming oil paints)

  • how will you clean up? What can you do to make this as efficient and pleasant as possible - ahead of time?

Place + Time Cues, Sensory associations

  • a particular outfit/apron/hat/bracelet,

  • drink,

  • audio,

  • scents,

  • a particular time of Day.

The canvas, a frame on a page, acts as the special place - sink in, alone with your self + color + tools

The audio + chosen sensory stimulation add to this limited dimensionality.

Quick Exercise:

Remind your body what the motions feel like: move a brush wetted with water on the canvas.


Any clue what you want to paint or why?

What are your expectations?

Can you let go of these limitations?

To create your own painting prompts:

Go on safari: in your home, in nearby nature: Jot notes, list, free-verse, details + descriptors

Bring a simple sketchbook or folded piece of paper to make sketch snapshots as aid to mental photographs

Observe the essence of your surroundings, of a moment, of a place - painting is a mindset you can experience away from the performative pressures of the actual media, the paints, the canvas.

In your journal, whenever the mood strikes - draw frames the approximate shape of your canvas

In these frames, deposit QUICK, loose thumbnail sketches to plan how you might approach the actual painting

Need more specific prompts for your first painting?

Let’s go abstract - from memory - color shapes/color fields

Really zoomed in detail on a flower, for example,

Or the memory of color masses,

Or particular patterns "re-presented" as a painting

To circumvent performance anxiety or perfectionism, the first painting is an act of remembering the basics of mixing and what it's like to move the paint.

Try: Paint in thin layers, building up gradually, refining and covering rough drafts, all Zen and whatnot, embrace erasure if necessary wipe it all off with a sacrificial cloth.

Small quick steps, daily.