Well, I've really had to give myself permission to make mistakes in order to coax myself back into the studio. I have had such a long break from regular work over the holidays with our two trips out of town, and the grad school application process is really a Herculean achievement that sort of hangs in my mind. As I thought about simply showing up this week, and primed myself for the week ahead I realized I need to be gentle with myself. "It's okay to make bad paintings...for now, just paint." Of course the work never goes badly, really. It's just the fear that you won't live up to your past which is paralyzing. And the permission to fail is a very powerful catalyst towards productivity.
The piece I am working on above was begun in December. It is the sister to the piece of wood upon which I painted "pretty bird". I have held off with the tight realistic renderings of the animals mostly due to aversion, but I think there is some benefit to it all. I have remained wide open to risk in the background of the painting because my investment of time and effort so far remains small.
Happy New Year to all of you and best of luck with whatever you are working towards this year.