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Mercurial Muse

Posted on December 31st, 2016

I was commissioned to create a serene angelic piece with pinks and golds. In my mind’s eye, I could already see this beautiful artwork, and I couldn’t wait to get started on it.

Except that, when I did, the vision refused to unfold on the canvas. I tussled and I fought, and finally I walked away, only to return and try again. This wrestling match continued for weeks. (My poor client. I kept calling her, telling her I was working on it! She was so patient and understanding. “It will come when it’s ready,” she replied.) Finally, one day, I sat down and just let the image flow. Instead of serene, it was wildly joyful. Instead of golds, deep blues emerged:


It was beautiful, but it wasn’t what the client had asked for. I kept fussing with it, trying to force a different vision into it. Then the strangest thing happened: the file disappeared. I mean, completely. It wasn’t in the folder, it wasn’t ANYWHERE. I was horrified. Where was this image that I’d spent so many hours creating?

I thought, “Well, that’s that. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I’ll just start again.” I told my client about the mysterious disappearance (Christie is so chill. She just said she couldn’t wait to see what Spirit would guide me to this time.) 

Once again, I tried to create the pink and gold vision. But this time, it insisted on being silver:


I decided not to fight it, that I would just let it be what it wanted to be. I prepared a proof for my client. Just before I sent it, I had a thought. The one place I hadn’t checked for the original file was my computer’s trash can. Could it be there? I didn’t know how, because I definitely hadn’t placed it there, but? So I checked. Sure enough, there it was. And it was beautiful. My Muse said, “It’s finished. Leave it be.” So I did.

I sent proofs of both images to my client. She loved them. The original one will soon grace her walls as a watercolor print. Moral of the story: let the art be what it wants. I cannot win a battle against my mercurial Muse. 🙂

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