Art & Craft Musings Paintings

What Makes You Come Alive? Go Do It!!

I’ve been having some major learning experiences lately with regards to listening to my inner voice. However, it’s funny, I tend to reach certain conclusions about things, like major lightbulb AHA! moments, and then as life goes on I completely forget them and start making the same mistakes again! So then I have to become conscious of what I’m doing again, to get more in line with my true self aaand the circle continues. Hopefully at some point something will stick, right? So, my recent learnings, let me share them with you!

One of the MAIN things I’ve learned these past months is that when it comes to anything you do creatively (painting, blogging etc) you need to do what makes YOUR heart sing. Not what you think other people want to see, what you think you should (such a dirty word!) do or what your parents want you to do. The quickest way to burnout and not feeling enthusiastic is doing stuff that isn’t true to what your inner wisdom is telling you is RIGHT for you. Do what YOU want and your passion and enthusiasm will be infectious and people will be interested because YOU’RE interested (and therefore interesting).

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.Howard Thurman |

Last week I was in such a dark mood. I wasn’t feeling any of my paintings. I spent a lot of time doing social networking stuff and watching TV shows because something was stopping me from getting into the studio. (To be fair though, I was rewatching Dollhouse, which is very very worth every minute spent on it lol) Every time I sat down to work on my paintings I just ended up sitting and staring into space, or telling myself it wasn’t any good, or that I couldn’t come up with the right ideas.

Until I realised that I was expecting myself to create other people’s art! I was berating myself for the fact that my intuitive paintings didn’t look more like Flora Bowley’s work. I thought MY intuitive paintings should look like SOMEONE ELSE’S otherwise they wouldn’t be intuitive enough… BATSHIT INSANE RIGHT?!!! Seriously, looking back on it it’s so obvious where the flaw in my thinking is, but these thoughts really go through my head when I’ve inadvertently given myself over to my inner critical voice.

And then this happened:

Scared Inside | mixed media intuitive painting on 12 x 10" canvas board | @rrreow

Scared Inside – mixed media on 12 x 10″ canvas board

I gave myself permission to DO MY OWN THING. I’m sure you can still see other people’s influences there, but I wasn’t actively trying to make it look like anything, apart from what was already inside me. I also gave myself permission to make similar shapes to ones I’d already done in previous work. I tend to tell myself that I can’t do the same thing twice or I ‘won’t be original’. It’s not like the masters ever worked with the same themes or imagery..oh wait.. Again with the crazy inner voice!

Part of the ‘problem’ is that there is so much amazing work out there being created by so many amazing people. I love looking at the stuff my artist friends create or things on Pinterest. It’s absolutely inspiring and makes me want to get into the studio (and when I start thinking “I’ll never be as good as…” I quickly try and shoo that voice away!). Where it goes wrong though is when I think ‘Wow what they do is amazing, I must want to do that too’. That’s where there is a really fine line between being inspired by what other people do (totally awesome!) and wanting your work to look like theirs and trying to achieve that (not so fulfilling).

I’ve realised that “What I like” and “What I like doing” don’t have to be the same thing!

What makes you come alive? Let me know and then GO DO IT!!

By Iris

Hi I'm Iris! I'm a mixed media artist from London, UK. I want to inspire everyone with a creative heart to make and do what they love!

10 replies on “What Makes You Come Alive? Go Do It!!”

Great blog post! I can totally relate to everything you have said. I have days where I feel like I should write down everything positive that comes to my mind. I never do and then my great ideas escape me. Years back, I read about an artist who would dream great ideas and then forget them by the time he woke up in the morning. He started keeping a pencil and pad of paper next to his bed so that he could write them down. And yes– BATSHIT INSANE is correct!

I try to write down my own inner wisdom! I have a sketchbook and also use the Notes app on my phone a lot. I just write & forget, but then I take some time every once in a while to go through the things I wrote and I find myself nodding along to myself haha. I really recommend it.

Great post and so glad you got back to painting. I am having ‘that’ week I’m afraid and not yet found my lightbulb moment, but when I do I think the first thing I should do is go paint it on the wall so I don’t forget. Meanwhile hope you and all the others keep painting and make me smile and enjoy your work.

It’s so hard to hold on to that painting momentum I find!! There are gazillions of distractions in the way of life, social media, and also those pesky inner negative thoughts. I hope you get back into your painting groove soon Lynda! I love seeing your work.

Iris this is a great post! Thanks for sharing feelings I think many of us have had. πŸ™‚ Its true we do have to do what makes us happy because we each have a unique artistic voice to share! Have a great weekend!

Thanks Erica! We really have to be true to our own voice, but in life there are so many other voices (some inside ourselves even!) telling us what we should be doing instead that it’s a real challenge to live by this message! Hope you had a lovely weekend also.

Sweet, smart Iris,
Been spending some time on your blog this morning and the spring in my step is lighter and my heart thankful. Your words and wisdom are just what I’m needing right now. AND, I loooove your art. Seriously, it’s gorgeous. I’m so glad we’re friends. πŸ™‚

Sara, wow your sweet heartfelt comment literally made me tear up just now!! And I feel so honoured to be your friend. Every time I read your blog I feel a real connection. I’m glad my words were helpful to you. Big big hugs!!! Hope you have an amazing celebration tomorrow!


Lovely blog! I think that at some point we all think, “What would the world like?” I know that whenever I paint flowers or birds, he says, “Oh! I like when you paint your flowers and birds. I think that people would buy that a lot more than people.” But, you know what?! I am not as happy when I am painting flowers and birds! I am much happier when I paint people. So, that is what my main focus is. I do like an occasional break and will whip out some flowers. However, that is not really my passion. I say paint what you love, even if no one buys it! For me, it is more about enjoying the moment anyway….loved your blog!

I know right! I notice when I do birds that a rush of people like it, but it kind of bores me. The faces are ALWAYS interesting. And look at historical painters, there’s plenty of faces/figures in there. I think there’s such a fascination with them. At the moment I’m not really focussing on selling my art, but even if I was I think I’d prefer to focus on getting really good (and unique/original) at what I LOVE, than to just keep knocking out stuff that doesn’t make me happy. Thanks for your input Kara!!

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