Are You Willing to be a Beginner Over and Over Again?

I’ve always wanted to paint. Instead, I made my own clothes, practiced interior design, danced, wrote, and even taught.

But I always wanted to paint.


Whenever I’d sit down and try to paint, I always found a reason to stop – my technique wasn’t developed enough, I didn’t have any natural talent, I didn’t have the time to put into it, etc. Most of the time, I never even knew what I wanted to paint – what I should paint. With all of these roadblocks in my way, painting just didn’t happen or work. Sometimes I ended up painting flowers, but I got bored painting them, so my painting failed miserably.

When I did get to paint in school – in a class that required the development of some portfolio – the teacher’s comments were satisfactory, but never, “wow!” I wanted “wow!” Instead I got, “your colors are a little dry,” or “you need to free up your style; it’s a little tight.”

When it came time for higher education, I decided to study Applied Art and went on to successful career as an interior designer. Heck, it was Applied Art! I loved the professional life, and was good enough for my clients to call me back again and again. I designed for years, fighting trends and encouraging those I worked with to find out who they were before we did their design. This style of designing became my message.

I was a beginner once again when I took my design on television. I had to consider presenting on camera and being very concise so the idea got across in a ten minute segment.

After five years on television,  I decided to write a book. Yes, it happened again – I was back to beginning.  How should I organize my subject material? How should I make the content engaging and interesting? How should I give directions with simplicity? And, of course, how do I get the book published? Who is going to take it to publishers? How do I write a cover letter? What’s a press kit? How do I create a good title? What do I want on the cover? So many questions!

Last year I received the wonderful gift  of an opportunity of going to Italy to study oil painting. Three weeks in Florence, Italy. At last I was going to paint! My teachers at the Academy of Art insisted on my copying the masters to produce a painting IN ORDER TO LEARN. I did it, and I was pretty good. Having something to copy seemed to work well for me. My technique and skill developed. I didn’t get the comment of dry color, and my people really looked like people (by the way, I think we do SEE better as we age, not in the sense of eyesight, but in the sense of maturity).

After this experience, I decided I wanted more – I needed more! I signed up for Alex and Allyson Grey’s Visionary Intensive held at COSM, in Wappingers Falls, New York. Visionary Art means art that has a message; I liked that idea. You know well by now that I’m into MESSAGES!

So here I am, seeing if painting with a vision is going to mean I can finally paint. But there is more to the story. You guessed it, I’m a beginner again! It was a year ago that I was in Italy – so much time has passed. At CoSM, I don’t have a masterpiece to copy, I have to come up with all of it on my own, and it needs to have a visionary message to boot! And here I am…a beginner again.

This experience of being a beginner doesn’t seem as easy. I’ve tried to figure out what it is, and I think the answer is that when you’re a beginner, you need to develop new systems, which takes patience. I need to figure out how to transfer a message through images rather than words; I have to figure out how to draw with a paint brush. It is difficult and definitely a rebirth for me. I feel vulnerable; I need to ask questions over and over again. I feel challenged to become patient with the process. Every day we work on a different skill, and today I got a little better with the system of brushes, thinners and cleaning. Who knows what I’ll develop confidence in tomorrow? My style? What will it look like?  I don’t want it to look like illustrations, and, of course, so far that’s what I’ve got!!

I know I’m going on, but it’s all to say this: I’m a beginner again! I may be a closet artist for awhile, but I’m using my creativity, and that’s the best. (We’re told creativity is the element we all possess that is important for 2012.)

What have you always wanted to do? Fly an airplane? Write a book? Walk across the Country? You better get started. That is if you can handle being a beginner again! Can you do it? I know you can! Love you…

Denny Daikeler

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