We had the good fortune of connecting with Lucy Dickens and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lucy, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
So many thoughts come to mind as I ponder this question. Do I answer in reference to perseverance in my success as an artist, in the pursuing of and seeking to achieve excellence in my craft? I also can’t help but think also about an individual painting and when it is done. When to push through and when to put the brush down? The answers to both of these vary. From the first time I put brush to canvas, I knew this is what I was supposed to be doing. This is who I am. I had no idea where it would take me and even now the path continues to unfold. But I knew this, I must paint! The more I painted, a deep passion welled up inside me and filled me with a sense of purpose, my heart bursting with profound joy and deep emotion. I have felt this way ever since as I create. It became very clear to me this was part of my calling, my outreach and I believe God wanted to use this, through me, to help bring beauty, light, hope, and encouragement into this world. This is what drives me, this is what challenges me to persevere through crisis, struggles, dark days, and more. I will fight through, I will create, I will write, I will encourage, I will not give up!
A long time ago, I had been praying, feeling unsettled and distressed because I went through a time when not much was happening with my art career. I questioned, What am I missing? Am I supposed to be doing something different, am I not hearing Your direction right? Over and over again I heard in my spirit, Just keep painting and trust me. Later I heard, Be ready. Well that is an answer isn’t it? Just not exactly the one I wanted to hear. Sometimes the answer to our prayer is No, not yet. We can be so impatient can’t we, I know I can. I have learned over the years to listen, to work hard, perfect my craft, to be ready, and pray to open the doors I am meant to walk through and to close the doors I am not meant to walk through. This keeps me going and on the right path set before me. I remember digging through a trash heap in Mexico as we were down on a mission trip building a home for those in need. Why was I digging through the rubble? There must be some shred of beauty here, what can I use from the discarded to beautify the simple concrete stoop, something to help take it from house to home, welcoming them in. I stumbled upon broken shards of colorful pottery. Maybe if I found enough I could make a mosaic stoop, pressing this into the concrete as it dried. What about these broken curved pavers. Could I line a pathway? I could spread gravel in between that was sifted out of the dirt to make the stucco. It was then on top of the trash heap I heard, You are called to be a bringer of Light and Beauty. This spoke deeply to my soul and I have it posted next to my easel. I will never forget it. When I feel overwhelmed, or feel like giving up, like throwing in the towel, these words bring me right back. I most want to invoke light and beauty, joy and hope, encouragement and inspiration in my paintings and my stories. I want to bring viewers to another place, capture a memory, cause them to feel. What about knowing when a painting is finished, when I should keep going or call it?
Sometimes I fall into perfectionism and this can really cause a problem. I have learned it is better to leave a painting slightly unfinished, and continue to learn from each painting, then to greatly overwork it. Yet, there are times I just need to set it aside and come back with fresh eyes. Then I am able to see what needs to be adjusted, to capture what I intended all along. It’s all a growing and learning process. I read a blog post by Dreama Tolle Perry, When is a Painting Finished? , which really spoke to my heart on this subject. “If perfection is not the gold standard for when a painting is done, then what is? Abandoning the idea of perfection in my work, a relaxing of my standards, this one thing was and still is both life changing and life affirming for me. It is accepting me. With every painting, there comes a letting go of my need for perfection. Does it contain the joy I felt when completing it? Can I feel a tenderness and kindness towards myself?” Dream continues, “Does it make me smile? Do I see me in it? It has helped me to realize that my art is not about wowing someone else with my skills. It’s about bringing some smiles, some truth, some happy into this life while I am here. If it is not perfect then it is for sure “me,” perfectly imperfect. Paint from your heart, paint from joy, let go of perfection, embrace the beauty of truth in yourself and in your art.
When it delivers the emotion felt, it makes you smile, it feels joy, it is finished. Period. It is not about perfecting the painting, it is about allowing your heart to maintain that joy from one painting to the next…let your paintings pause and breathe in that joy from one to the next.” Don’t we tend to get critical, looking for what’s wrong in a painting or in other areas of our lives? None of us are perfect, we were never created to be. “A perfectionist sets unrealistic expectations for themselves and for others…a perfectionist will let failures get in their head and slow them down,” Monique McLean. She continues “Excellence is obtainable.
Excellence will uplift you, perfectionism will make you feel defeated. When you embrace excellence in your life and your business, you are embracing your unique design with the tools and resources you currently have. Grow your strengths, sharpen your gifts and talents.” We all have our imperfections, haven’t we? It’s all part of what makes you uniquely you, and me uniquely me. Sometimes we just need to kick perfectionism to the curb and embrace our imperfections. Otherwise, it can steal our joy and contentment. Joy fills us when we realize we are right where we are supposed to be, when where supposed to be. It is a trusting, stepping into our plan and purpose and trusting in the power and gift of creating.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Artist Statement From the first time I put brush to canvas, I knew this is what I was supposed to be doing. This is who I am. I had no idea where it would take me and I still don’t. But I know this, I must paint! The more I paint a deep passion wells up inside me and fills me with a sense of purpose.
From an early age, I have been drawn to the incredible work of the great masters, especially the Hudson River Valley painters, such as Thomas Cole and Fredrick Church. Studying these artists and their handling of oil paints, their mastery of atmosphere and light, along with capturing a sense of the divine influences my work today. I paint landscapes, botanicals, and wildlife predominantly because I’m drawn to moments that take my breath away. It’s those moments of beauty that cause me to feel, to reflect, and to give thanks that draws me in. It’s these fleeting visions that I strive to capture. The interplay of light and shadow draw me deeply into a scene. What does the light touch? What is hiding in the shadows, how do they dance? I love the sound of the wind in the trees or water gently lapping the shore, a bubbling brook and the dance of dragonflies darting to and fro. It’s all entrancing to me. I think of how I can convey these experiences in oil paint and in word.
I most enjoy painting in a series from my travel journeys, bringing viewers along on this journey with me through painting images and my written “story” accompanying each painting. I hope to evoke feelings of serenity and grace, a scene to transport you to another place and time exploring the mystery within, to capture memories, and those fleeting moments of beauty. There is a story evolving all around us and my hope is to inspire others through my images and words. My most recent travel journey was an incredible safari through Kenya and Tanzania. Upon returning I created a series of 15 safari paintings from this adventure, currently on exhibition at the Phoenix Zoo’s, “Art on the Wild Side”. Check out this series and all of my work at www.LucyDickensFineArt.com “Her realism is not about reproducing a scene, but rather capturing those special moments with all the accompanying magic. In this regard, she has a gift. She is able to reveal spirit and enable viewers to be part of the experience as she makes a special connection with her subject matter and honors its essence. People respond.” Donna Kublin, Images AZ Magazine
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them hiking and exploring while off-roading through the deserts and the woods up near our cabin on the Mogollon Rim. Our scenery is incredibly diverse. We would hang out by the pool and have happy hour on the view deck. we could take in the Desert Botanical Garden and Gertrude’s restaurant. We could take in the Phoenix Art Museum. Confluence, Indigo Crow, Tonto Bar and Grill, and The Spotted Donkey are suggested restaurants in the Carefree and Cave Creek area. we would hang out at Janey’s Coffee house at night for live music and cocktails.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Blog post by Dreama Tolle Perry, When is a Painting Finished? I love her paintings and encouraging blog posts! Monique McLean, 21 Days of Prayer of Your Business, https://www.amazon.com/Days-Prayer-Your-business-Bundle/dp/0998345709 Jason Horejs, owner of Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ and my art business mentor. He also has an amazing blog, www.RetDotBlog.com
Personal Photo by Lisa Fitzhugh