Turning Points


Donna Zagotta, This Way

“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”   Anais Nin

Turning Point: Important moment of change; a time or incident that marks the beginning of a completely new, and usually better, stage in somebody’s life or in the development of something.

A few weeks ago I gave a slide talk at the Stretching Boundaries for Creative People seminar on the autobiographical content of my figure paintings. It was a great opportunity to put together a retrospective of my body of work from the last 10 or so years and reflect on struggles resolved, successes won, questions answered, goals achieved, paths explored, and roads not taken. With the passage of time I was able to see the choices and decisions that I made that led to certain turning points in my art journey. An early turning point occurred when I made the decision to leave behind everything I was told by my early art instructors about what art is and what it could be to find my own answers. A second turning point came about when I resolved to find that thing that is my own. 

But by far, I think that my most important turning point came about when I made the commitment to myself about 6 years ago to please only myself with my paintings, and to never again paint a painting that I didn’t love. In figuring out what it was going to take to put together a painting that I truly loved, I had to take a risk and put it all on the line. What if I did a painting that I loved and then I discovered that the rest of the world thought it was crap? Or, what if I put everything I had into a painting, but I still didn’t love it? But I held my breath, jumped in, and took the risk anyway. And it was in taking that risk that I finally started to find that thing that is my own.

In his book Turning Points, Stories of People Who Made a Difference, Max L. Christensen defines a turning point as:

       A time when commitments are made.

       A time when new attitudes are formed.

       A time when new directions are chosen.

        A time  when distant visions are transformed into reality.

A turning point often occurs at a time of major crisis. It is a decisive moment where a significant change or decision is about to be made. While it can be difficult and scary, and something that requires a gigantic leap of  faith, a turning point can be a fabulous vehicle for positive change and growth. 

Here is some great advice by Katherine Mansfield: Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth. 

Do you have some observations on turning points that you’d like to add to this? I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Painting!

5 thoughts on “Turning Points

  1. Dan Kent

    The words of wisdom that I heard and that made a significant turning point for me seem not so hard were those of Jim Roan – “You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”

  2. Ruth Armitage

    For me a turning point in my artwork was when I realized that I needed to interpret what I see and feel through my own unique lense, filtering out the unimportant stuff, rather than trying to paint what I see. I think my work took a huge jump at that point, and when I remember to do that, I am much more satisfied with my work. Thanks for a thought provoking question!

  3. Di

    I love your blog, I’ve been traveling but finally found my way back to your beautiful voice here on the web.

    Katherine Mansfield is a fellow New Zealander, and huge hero of mine. I love this quote of hers, and your post, as always.

  4. Jim

    “Follow your bliss!” Joseph Cambell

    “Who you are is found in what you love” Donna Zagotta

    “Keep painting the parts that you love” Brian Simmonds,
    Perth, Australia. My art teacher!

    Thanks Donna for being yourself!

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