Start Where You Are

“Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can.”

~ Arthur Ashe

I was thinking about this quote again. I noticed I’d been procrastinating and falling into the “When I…” syndrome. You know, the way we like to postpone doing something about our dreams and wishes. “When I have the time, I will get fit”; “when the children have left home, I will focus on my career” and so forth.

The one that was on my mind was “when I have a ‘proper’ studio, I will focus on my painting”.

I was telling myself over and over that I couldn’t paint in my current situation. “I don’t have the room; I don’t want to get paint on the carpet; I don’t have all my materials easily to hand…” – excuse after excuse.

Then I remembered Arthur Ashe’s quote. Of course I can still paint, I thought, I just have to be creative about how I go about it.

Working on the floorThis is me working/painting on the floor!


Creativity is in everything we do, so be creative about how you ‘do’ your creativity. Besides it’s much more fun that way!

Start where you are: do at least ten minutes of whatever it is you want to do. Every day. Make small, consistent steps. On your morning commute to work, when the kids are asleep, or wake up an hour earlier. Create the time.

Use what you have: a scrap of paper and a pencil or blue ballpoint pen. Find a YouTube video of a free drawing class. Use one end of your dining table. Find floor space and use an old newspaper as your table top (see my photo above).

Do what you can: copy a picture you like. Draw a flower, tree or butterfly. Make marks. Doodle. Cut up paper and make figures like Henri Matisse did when he could no longer paint. Embrace any (perceived) ‘limitations’ and make that your art, your ‘signature’, your uniqueness.

For inspiration on embracing limitations, please watch the wonderful TED Talk by Phil Hansen – his message is an example of Ashe’s quote in action. When you gain momentum in this way, there’s no telling where you’ll go.

And finally I follow wise words from Christine Kane, my business coach and mentor, to take “imperfect action”. If you wait for the perfect conditions, you will wait forever. Make it easy and do-able. I know you can do it!

What can you start with, where and how? What limitation can you exploit and transform into your art? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.


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