Whilst I suspected she'd done some tidying up in readiness, there was, nevertheless a joyful sense of chaos. There were canvases neatly stacked everywhere - all of them a work in progress - and nothing finished. And of course, there was colour! Palettes loaded with paint, tubes of the wonderful stuff, and brushes in pots galore!
The work I'd come to see had pride of place in the best light on the main easel. Even though it wasn't quite complete, I could easily imagine the finished work of art. It was breathtaking.
We'd connected originally because I'd seen several of her pieces on Instagram and Facebook, and then found a community of fans on Pinterest. Everything she completed and published appealed to me, making it really hard to choose the piece I was to invest in.
We sat down to discuss art and creativity over a cup of extraordinarily good coffee. And then she punched me, metaphorically, in the solar plexus with these nine words:
Are you comparing your mess to someone else's masterpiece?
When I got my breath back, I asked her, "Where did that come from?"
She said, "Everyone I invite into my creative space has already seen and judged my work. They only connect and come here if they like what I do, but I can also say that they've only previously seen the finished work.
"They don't see the research - books strewn everywhere - hours on the internet - palettes of experimental colours.
"They don't see the failed sketches and cartoons. They don't see the canvases that 'almost made it' but were then abandoned.
"They don't see the mess.
"They judge me by the masterpiece (she winked) I publish - the finished work - not by the messy process it takes to make the masterpiece."
I smiled, and she concluded, "I love people even more than painting, and there's nothing better than playing a role in releasing their creative potential. But when they come here wanting to be more creative like me, the kindest thing I can do is show them the mess behind the masterpiece. There cannot be one without the other.
"It took me a long time to accept the process. I compared my mess with the finished masterpieces of other artists I admired, and it held me back for years. Embrace the mess and let your masterpiece emerge!"
The truth of this struck me deeply. I'd been comparing my mess of a life to other people's masterpieces as portrayed through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I'd take them at face value when meeting them face-to-face at networking meetings. They'd had the cleaners in, there was no mess to be seen.
So I ask you the same: are you comparing your 'mess' with other people's masterpieces?
I walked away from the Artist's Atelier a richer person.
Then being a bit of a creative myself, this idea popped into my head:
Are you judging someone else by their mess and missing the masterpiece in the making?
Hmmm, that's a good thought. If you're like me, it can be all too easy to focus on someone's mess and miss the wonder of the emerging masterpiece. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts of grace is to love someone in the midst of their mess and seek to be the creative catalyst who will help them make good art using the mess they are in!
A Moodscope member.