Jane Latus Emmert

Montana Artist


Knowing when to stop

Posted by Jane Latus Emmert on September 21, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Sometimes I push myself--as an artist, as an outdoorswoman, as an advocate for good causes, but sometimes I stop.  Quit.  Take a break.

Last weekend my husband and I tried to float the Middle Fork of the Flathead River in pontoon boats while we fished.  Coordination was an issue for me right from the start.  The pontoon boat is lightweight and over-reacted with each stroke of my oar as I tried to keep facing downstream.  The current spun me, the wind blew me back UPSTREAM at times even in a strong current and I was feeling overwhelmed.   I didn't even pretend to care about my fly in the water--I was trying not to break my flyrod or tip my boat over. 

We stopped at a gravel bar to fish a nice hole from the shore and I was happy there, but when we climbed back in our boats the wind increased and I was pretty miserable.  I was trying not to whine.  I was trying to push myself to endure, but my frustration was showing.   My husband told me we were still at a point where we could pull out and get back to the truck--but if we went much further then we were committed to a four hour float.  I didn't want to quit and he saw the struggle on my face.  He reminded me that this outing was supposed to be fun, not torture--so I let myself quit.  I don't like to quit and I felt like a failure at first.  Then, I realized that I wouldn't have asked any one else to keep going in a similar situation.  I gave myself permission to be equally kind to myself.

Sometimes when I paint I push myself to fight through the struggles--and sometimes I let myself  "quit."  I have canvases in progress...paintings that aren't quite right and sometimes  I give myself permission to set them aside.  Another day the magic might flow through my fingertips and I'll know how to finish the painting.  If not, then I use those paintings as a learning tool.  Please don't think that every painting an artist attempts is a masterpiece.  We have our share of bloopers.  So, give yourself permission to experiment.  Try something new.  Be brave enough to try something difficult and if you accomplish your goal--celebrate!  And if you have to quit, take the lesson learned and carry it with you on your next attempt. 

I know that I'll float the river again, but I'm SURE I'll practice a bit more first, and I'll choose a day when the wind is calm.  Happy painting (and fishing!) from Montana Jane.

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