What is a blank canvas? Aside from it’s literal definition, the term ‘blank canvas’ usually depicts the beginning or starting point of a creative journey before any steps have been taken toward bringing that creation into reality. I’ll use a metaphor to further explain what I mean:
Imagine that you are about to embark on a creative journey. In order to get from your starting point to your destination, you will be journeying through a sandy desert.
Before you begin your journey, you look out ahead at the path before you. Sand stretches out around you, as far as the eye can see. As you begin your journey you begin to notice that with each step you take towards your destination you a leave behind you a footprint in the sand.
You toil through the desert towards your destination. X marks the spot. Finally, you have arrived. You look back at the path you have traveled and see that your journey is clearly marked. Your legacy is the trail you left behind, each footstep showing the way.
In my metaphor described above, the blank canvas was the desert prior to the first step of the journey being taken. As soon as the journey began and the first step was taken, the canvas was no longer blank, as the sand now has a footprint.
The sandy desert is your blank canvas.
The path, trail, footsteps and journey are the components of your creation.
The creation is completed once you arrive at your destination.
What are your artistic tools? Your own body, drive and sheer will.
A blank canvas denotes potential. It is a blank white surface, a blank page where anything can happen – a story, a poem, a mystery, an essay, a love letter, a novel, even a grocery list. Each stroke of a pen gliding ink along a page is akin to each step of a foot trekking along the desert, making an impression in the sand, leaving behind a trail of footprints as you traverse the desert towards the final destination.
When we are born into this life, we start out as a blank canvas, a blank page. We write and paint our futures with words written in the now and brush strokes coloring this very moment. Even as you read these very letters and words which appear before you, you are painting the canvas of your mind.
Creating a blank canvas plays a key role in the success of reaching the creative destination you seek.
Although, as we so often hear, the creative process is not necessarily always about the final destination. Sometimes, it’s about the journey itself.
In terms of my own life, I’m at a point where I’d like to clear away certain things, thus enabling me to create a blank canvas for myself. I have some tasks I’ve put off for a very long time (boring paperwork, mainly), and I’d love to get these things off of my proverbial plate so that I can completely immerse myself in consciously painting a beautiful work of art on the canvas that is life.
So often I find it ridiculously easy to imagine all the delightful things I can create, yet picking up that paint brush and making the first stokes can sometimes seem so daunting and difficult. But I know it doesn’t have to be this way.
Something I must bear in mind is that failure to even pick up the brush is still a creative choice — not necessarily the best choice, of course, but a creative choice none the less; by default, it’s a choice that simply creates more of the status quo, perpetuating whatever one’s current life circumstances already happen to be.
If art is created one step and brush stroke at a time, so it must be the same with the creation of a blank canvas.
As Vincent Van Gogh once said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
This is very much akin to those famous words attributed to Confucius: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Even the creation of a blank canvas or slate is part of the journey.
So with that in mind… here I go!
Here’s wishing good journeys to us all.