Palm Trees Bend But Don’t Break – Acrylic Painting on Canvas

palm trees bend but don't break acrylic painting


An Acrylic Painting of Palm Trees Bending in the Wind on a Stormy Day

Today I am celebrating the successful completion of my first commissioned painting of palm trees bending in the wind over a storm sky.

This was one of the hardest things I have done as a newer artist still finding my own voice and value. To take an idea from someone else, to see what they see and translate that into a painting stretched me creatively.

One of my clients who had bought another painting from me asked me to create a painting for her office. Her team is going through a challenging time and she keeps inviting them to be like the palm trees in a storm that bend but don’t break. Palm trees also gather strength from each other which is why they naturally grow in clusters.

Stretching Outside My Comfort Zone as an Artist

I didn’t have a clue how to paint palm trees or how to paint a stormy sky. I tend to paint more abstractly, use many mixed media layers and add Zentangle® patterns to everything. I love mark making and texture. But real palm trees with the right shape and shadows? Storm clouds with light and darkness?

I felt like the palm tree battered by the winds of a hurricane but my hurricane was in my head. Can I do this? This is hard? What if she doesn’t like it?

Thank heavens for YouTube videos like this fun video from Painting with Jane. She did a great job of discussing color, texture and what brushes to use. I love to paint with acrylics and learned so much from how to hold the brush to how to create the fluffy texture of the storm clouds.

Learning to Detach from the Outcome – Would She Like It?

I was my own biggest enemy when it came to completing this painting. When I paint for myself, I don’t really care if anyone likes it or not. I am detached from the outcome and joyfully engaged n the process. With this painting I found myself feeling nervous and concerned about the buyer liking it. Could I capture what she wanted? I wasn’t sure. At one point I asked my husband for feedback and bit his head off when he gave it to me. He’s generally right on with his suggestions, even when I don’t want to hear them. He helps me to be a better artist.

But finally, I called the painting complete. I stopped fussing and tinkering and adding bits of light to the palm fronts.

I sent off the email of the final image with great trepidation. Would she like it?

And then I had a transformational moment where I realized it didn’t matter. I had done my best and it was pretty darn good. I had stretched myself creatively, learned a lot on my journey and am a better painter because of this experience.

Plus, if she doesn’t like it someone else might. And I can always paint over it and create something new. Most of my paintings are layered. I love this effect of creating a palimpsest of energy, color and texture.

Finding My Voice and My Joy in the Painting

In that moment of detachment from her liking it or not, I freed myself from stress and anxiety. I reminded myself of the joy of painting, the love of color and texture and learning new techniques.

In the end, she loved the painting. It was a beautiful collaboration.

And I am grateful for this powerful opportunity to stretch and grow as an artist. I have new empathy for my business coaching clients when I keep asking them to stretch and grow, too. I am practicing what I preach. Show your work! Show the good, the bad, the journey and the joy.

Share Your Insights

Share in the comments a moment when you were asked to stretch as an artist. What did you learn? What can you celebrate today about your experience?


  1. Alana on October 5, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    I loved the texture of your palm leaves – it is what attracted me to the painting. I haven’t done anything creative for pay in a long time (crocheting) and I can remember the dread of “will this work for the person”?

    • minette on October 5, 2018 at 9:38 pm

      Thanks Alana and you totally nailed the feeling of dread. Appreciate yountakong time to comment and share.

  2. Amanda Trought on October 5, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    I think it is a lovely painting, I like the way you have used texture. Over the past year I have been working with clay and fabric and really had to push myself to learn how to combine and make it work in my own style, I am glad I pushed on as some of my pieces won a Silver and Bronze award in Barbados.

    • minette on October 5, 2018 at 5:08 pm

      Thank you Amanda! I love hearing about your success, very inspiring.

  3. Angel on October 5, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    That’s awesome. I really love your painting and how realistic it is. You did a wonderful job!

    • minette on October 5, 2018 at 5:08 pm

      Thank you Angel

  4. Alice Gerard on October 5, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    What a beautiful painting. Your clouds are very lush, and the bending palm trees look as if they are dancing. I’m glad that you decided to leave your comfort zone and create this beautiful painting.
    One of the moments when I had to stretch as an artist (in this case, as a writer) was when I was asked to write an interpretation of a song that my community chorus was performing. It was about memories fading and disappearing. I decided to write a sonnet, even though I found that poetic form to be very difficult. I did write that sonnet and it’s in today’s blog post!

    • minette on October 5, 2018 at 9:34 pm

      Love your story Alice! Thanks for sharing and I did get both your comments 🙂

  5. Alice Gerard on October 5, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    My previous comment disappeared.
    The painting is beautiful.
    It tells a great story.
    Leaving your comfort zone is necessary for growth.

  6. Maureen on October 6, 2018 at 4:11 am

    I love the painting, but really love the idea of detaching from the outcome. If I could learn to do this, I think it would make for a more peaceful, stress-free life. I’m certainly not creative in any way, but I could see how beneficial it would be to detach from a lot of ‘outcomes-based’ things in my life. Thank you for a great story, Minette!

    • minette on October 6, 2018 at 7:49 am

      Hi Maureen, learning to detach from outcomes has been an ongoing process for me. I would encourage you to take it one small step at a time and just keep practicing. Yes, it does make for moments of peace and less stress although at times like during this painting attachment rears it’s head again and I am asked to learn the lesson anew. And I also believe that we are all creative in our way, it’s what makes the human species unique on this planet – our ability to see, to make connections, to solve problems. Creativity isn’t just about making art but in how we approach our life.

  7. Lorraine on October 6, 2018 at 7:07 am

    what a beautiful creation and a beautiful learning from it. Yes yes yes to detaching from the outcome and just making sure that you did the very best you could. wonderful!

    • minette on October 6, 2018 at 7:46 am

      Thank you so much Lorraine – my journey through art has taught me so much about detachment, over and over!

  8. Theresa on October 6, 2018 at 7:58 am

    Beautiful experience and a beautiful painting! Your client is very lucky to have such a visually appealing AND heartfelt piece.

    • minette on October 6, 2018 at 8:11 am

      Thank you so much Theresa, what a lovely thing to say. You made my day!!

  9. Bianca Lankford on October 6, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    Beautiful painting! Thank you for sharing your story of how it came to be. Sometimes the best outcomes require the most struggle. Kudos to you for seeking the help you needed to bring this painting to life!

    • minette on October 7, 2018 at 9:08 am

      Thanks Bianca and yes, pushing through discomfort often allows us to find the gems on the other side.

  10. Lily Leung on October 7, 2018 at 7:32 am

    I love palm trees and your palm trees. Great details and textures. I’m the opposite of you. I don’t do well making marks but am experimenting and trying. It takes a while before something happens and I can connect with the process. I’m waiting for that ahhh moments.

    • minette on October 7, 2018 at 9:09 am

      Ah yes, those ahhhh moments! I love the experimenting and trying as long as I am just “playing.” It’s when I don’t manage my own expectations that I get stuck. Thanks for stopping by and for the compliments Lily.

  11. Sofee P. Kravitz on October 7, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Beautiful, and you made understand my niece who is a fledgling artist

    • minette on October 8, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      Support her as much as you can Sofee, it’s so important to nurture creativity! Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Tres on October 9, 2018 at 10:58 am

    I am so proud of you Minette! It is so scary to put ourselves out there. The painting makes me think of Pop’s story about climbing a palm tree in a hurricane.

    • minette on October 9, 2018 at 11:09 am

      Thanks, bro! Love you!

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