Less Scatter, More Brain

Narrow focus was the principle driving this piece. It's something I have an exceptionally hard time practicing in both painting and daily life.

After many frustrating landscape painting attempts over the years, I've finally learned to stop trying to paint ALL that's in front of me. I paint what I see first and what my eyes are drawn to. For this piece, it was a view of what Unzen looked like to the Japanese Catholics being tortured there hundreds of years ago. When I visited Unzen a few years back, I kept asking myself if the place can still be considered beautiful when used for evil? I don't have an answer.

Learning to focus is key to any work -- the artist's perspective is what makes the work unique. The importance of narrowing focus for more clarity applies beyond painting, but I first noticed it in my paintings. It's hard to dismiss a scattered and messy piece after hours of work. 

I've seen this principle in daily life: when I try to capture everything and do it all, it's messy. I get overwhelmed, tired, and discouraged. If I instead carefully select key things to narrow my focus on, I pay closer attention to what's important and see a better outcome. The outcome isn't necessarily quantifiable--it may be peace of mind and an overall positive demeanor. Other times it is quantifiable like finishing a series of paintings. While painting this series, I thought about those tortured who resisted. They also had to narrow their focus.  What was immediately in front of them was horrifying, but their future hope was bright.

Have you felt scatterbrained and overwhelmed from trying to focus on too many things at once? If you're like me, it may be an "achiever self" trying to perfect everything even though you're the only critic expecting that level of perfection.

Here's to weeks of focusing on specific goals and themes...which means eating eggs & toast or fried rice for dinner more often than I'd like to admit. I can't do it all so something's gotta give, and it's not going to be painting. 

As I am reminded over and over that I can't do it all, I live on this: But he said to me, β€œMy grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)