Paint It Black

When I’m writing, nothing defeats me more than a blank page. The yawning white space, the blue lines stretching into oblivion. My options are so endless and varied it can be paralyzing.

I remember taking an oil painting class in college. I was painting a vase for a still life that had me in tears. I was at a loss for how to begin to portray it on the canvas. I was artistically and emotionally stuck.

Two of my classmates noticed and said “Paint it black!” “You will feel so much better just having something on the canvas! You can paint over it later.”

I painted the vase black and they were right, I felt so much better just having something on the canvas. It got me unstuck and I finished the painting.

When staring at a blank page, I remember my artist friends’ advice to paint it black. Get something down. Anything.

I could write “I hate potatoes” and memories would surface of my mom making me eat what was on my plate before I could leave the table, a travel companion at a restaurant in Germany threatening to order cheesy potatoes, or being afraid to be honest at a special dinner for fear of offending the hostess. Then I could write about my childhood, my travels, or awkward dinner parties.

One thought will spur another thought, and another, and another until you have a whole page written. You may end up cutting that first paragraph or sentence, but who cares? You have your piece. You got unstuck.

And hopefully you’ll be singing a classic rock song while you write.

Naomi Sechrest
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2 thoughts on “Paint It Black

  1. I love the title and the comparison of the black vase on canvas to black words on the page. Thanks for the encouragement.

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