Ebb and Flow


I’ve been sensitive to the rhythm of my work lately. More so than usual. I think it’s because I’m pushing out in a few directions beyond my habitual territory—photographing more, drawing, experimenting with new mediums—and it’s uncomfortable. Starting something new is exciting, yes, but it’s also emotionally difficult.


An idea is only a beginning, and what follows the initial rush is usually heavy with failed attempts, self doubt, resistance, and moments of profound lethargy. Sometimes, if I am persistent, this awfulness is followed by hints of something good. This stage is filled with intuitive changes of approach. If I keep going at it, the cycle of thought and action come together with integrity, and a new direction emerges. Then I know it’s time to get up and run with it. Until then, it’s a bit like wading through deep mud.


These ups and downs…I’m starting to embrace the idea that this is just part of the ebb and flow. Adding new things to my creative practice also shakes up my routines, and I find myself re-negotiating my work rhythms, both energetically and emotionally. For instance, I have to be rigorously honest with myself about the difference between procrastination and giving a certain work some space to settle or develop.


When I’m trying new things, procrastination turns into a proper noun. Meet Procrastination, capital “P”. It takes a lot of self-honesty and dedication to have any kind of creative practice. Add fear and doubt to the mix, and Procrastination, and it’s evil twin, Resistance, become my constant companions. So I am daily having to tell them to piss off. I’ve got work to do.


11 thoughts on “Ebb and Flow

  1. twoballsofwax Amanda sargent

    I could not have describe the experience of “awfulness” when starting new ideas, playing with new forms, the “failed attempts, self doubt and resistance” that I have been running up against lately. Thank you for sharing all that so clearly. It is good to be reminded that the creative process is just that but mixed with patience and coming back to the essential energy of need and desire and wanting to explore, it is all tolerable and good, I might sometimes venture to say. But thanks for saying it here.
    I am new to your blog but look forward to your posts.

  2. Surya

    This is so interesting. For me, starting new things isn’t the hard part. I can forgive myself the mistakes because I’m “just learning”. It’s when the fun and play of the new thing ebbs off and I start to head deeper in, with a clearer idea of what I want to create that it gets hard and I get stuck in the capital P. Two sides of the creative coin!

  3. Gray Jacobik

    Beautifully said Lisa. Thank you. And the 3-dimensional piece is intriguing, the image causes me to want to see it , , , (oh, truth be told) . . . to own it.

  4. Merlyn Bost

    Thank you for giving such clarity to my own feelings as an artist when launching out in a new direction. You write beautifully.

  5. sydney

    Perfectly, succinctly put … ‘failed attempts, self doubt, resistance, and moments of profound lethargy’ … this is the ‘always struggle’ isn’t it? For me, the tough part is making sure that I keep focussed on the process, rather than the product. In that, there’s no ‘failed attempts’, just attempts, just process and learning (and a way to keep going and pushing past the resistance and stalling and procrastination that house those doubts and fears. Well written. Thanks!

  6. Iris A.G.

    Thanks for being Honest Lisa, that takes courage. I can relate to your experience as I’m sure creative folks from all corners of the world can.

  7. Anna

    I also am beginning a new journey into the world of encaustic and have packed up my new encaustic supplies twice already because of the frustrations of using the materials and not getting the results I want. I have painted with acrylic for years and have exhibited those works in galleries. With new medium I feel that I have never painted before. But, after looking at so many beautiful encaustic artworks, like yours Lisa, I get so inspired and want to continue. I took all of my supplies out again and will start practicing. I have to start as though I have never painted before and practice and practice by breaking down the steps and doing simple techniques. Thanks for sharing. I love your blog.

  8. Lisa JonesMoore

    Your thoughts and words on beginning a piece and “wading through mud” are exactly what I feel every time I step into the studio. Glad to know there are others who go through this but have the strength and dedication to “work through it”. Thanks for sharing your process!


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