Be, Do, Have The Secret of Efficient Creation

Lesson 10 from Lanscape Lessons Book 1 by Ning Yeh. I chose this because of the metaphor of Silk Road being a path to great riches as well as its connection to Tibet and the Dalai Llama. Try this lesson on OAS Artist Stationery or work bigger using Vintage Mulberry Paper!


Be, Do, Have - The Secret of Efficient Creation

What is a Master?

There are different ways to create things, but what is the secret of master creation?

First, let's define our terms by bringing things back to the specifics of Chinese painting. I'm a firm believer that,  if you paint enough, you will eventually paint something that pleases you. So for our purposes, I will define a master painter as someone who paints something pleasing to themselves reliably and with great frequency.

You often see master painters willing to do live demonstrations. The confidence to paint in front of an audience is a sign that, even under pressure, the artist feels that they will paint something they find pleasing.

It is very important to define mastery internally. In many ways mastery is a journey of self acceptance, self appreciation, and self evolution. It has nothing to do with the opinions of other people. The more mastery someone demonstrates, the less interested they seem in the opinions of others. Ironically the confidence that accompanies true mastery is often magnetic attracting patrons, admirers and students.

Grass orchid in color. Techniques for this style of painting can be found in 108 Flowers Book 3 on sale for $24 (regular $29.95) or Chinese Flower Painting 2: Orchid DVD on sale for $24.99 (regular $36)

What is Be, Do, Have?

So let's break down this idea of Be, Do, Have! Efficient creation starts with "decisions of being." The first act of creation was declared with the words, "Let there BE light!" 

The most effective action flows from decisions of being. Decisions of being often involve the words "I am..." For example, "I am an artist." 

The rest flows from this statement. "Because I AM an artist, I DO what an artist does, and eventually I HAVE what an artist has." More specifically, "Because I am an artist, I paint, and eventually I have a body of work." Can you see the efficiency of this? It has the certainty of a mathematical equation. It lacks the uncertainty of less fruitful pursuits that fail to start with the power of "I am..." decisions of being.

Other Options?

Many people get stuck thinking about the process backwards. Instead of Be, Do, Have, they think have, do, be. These statements often start with "If only", or "I wish." Like, "If only I had more time, then I would paint, and then I would be an artist." These statements stall creation before it gets started.

A more subtle way to miss the mark is to focus on action exclusively. The reason why this has become so popular is that it can be monitored by a teacher. If you say to yourself "I am an artist," a teacher cannot hear you. If you say it aloud, many teachers cannot tell if you really believe it. Many teachers do not even understand the power of efficient creation so they focus on encouraging you to create a flurry of action, that is easier for them to monitor and evaluate.

But actions that do not flow from "I am" decisions are not as potent. Actions that flow from "I am" decisions will be inspired. You will not just do, but be inspired to do the right things at the right times with the right collaborators to create more efficiently and with greater impact.

Summary/Practical Applications

  • If you paint enough, you will eventually come up with things that you like.
  • If you paint something that you don't like, set it aside. Later come back to it and find aspects of it that you appreciate.
  • Before starting a painting session take 5 minutes and slowly repeat the declaration "I am an artist."
  • As you make that statement, pause for 5-10 seconds and notice if your mind offers up any argument. If so, just release thoughts and go back to the statement, "I am an artist."
  • Over time there should be less and less argument from your mind. The goal is to be able to say it and feel the power of the silent acknowledgment signifying that you have declared something that your mind already believes to be true.
  • Beliefs are just thoughts that you think over and over again.
  • If you find it too stressful to focus on the statement "I am an artist," you can soften it to "I am becoming an artist"
  • For fun, the next time a conversation with someone new leads to the question, "What do you do?" Respond with, "I am an artist."


Artist improvement

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