Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mastering the Art of Imperfection: Learn to let go of the need to be perfect in your art making.

The faceless, unfinished Janet Keen

The faceless, unfinished ones. By Janet Keen

I  have been runnng  mixed media and watercolour painting classes for the past eight  years and have taught hundreds of people to be more creative.
I love teaching so really it's a win, win.
The  majority of people are  happy with their results and are an absolute pleasure to teach.
I believe that anyone is capable of of making art, they just need some encouragement and a set of easy effective lessons to begin with.

 Very occasionally I encounter people who are really challenging to teach because they are perfectionists and never seem to be happy with what they produce, no matter how good their natural ability is.

I visualise on a daily basis that I am a magnet to positive, uplifting and relaxed students who like to have fun during their art making.
 I have a poster about this in my toilet so I get to read it every day.

Here are some things I do to ward off perfectionism...
 I think that there is always another painting to try and everything is fixable and at the end of the day it doesn't really matter if it's not.
 I believe some people will like your art, some people won't and so what.... I  need to just keep on applying the paint.
I can often paint my way into a painting, it takes time to get into the flow.
Often I leave unfinished paintings or paintings I consider to be not there yet, hanging up in my studio so I can get feedback  from clients and I know in time that they will be finished when the time is right.
(One of my child students picked this painting below out last week and said "I just love that painting of yours,  it's so beautiful and I'd love to paint something like that." )
A favourite saying is don't kill off your babies straight away.
Give them time and in a while you may like them.
If not you need to analyse why you don't.
A former teacher of mine said to me she thinks that one out of nine paintings will be what you are really happy with.
I prefer to think one out of four.

                                                  The great unfinished bird painting.

 I can see from putting this painting up here that the teal background hill needs more work and probably I need a large figure in the foreground.
Also the hill in the front tails off in the wrong place.
I could fix this or I  could start another painting  to show a different and maybe more effective composition.
The last thing I would do is chuck it out or toss it in a wardraobe where I  can't see it because  I realise that I can always learn from my so called mistakes.

Other things I  do to ward off perfectionism
I meditate and relax before I start a series of paintings and I always work on four at one time.
I do journaling and doodling in a visual diary infront of the tv in my spare time and I read others art books for inspiration.

Sometimes I deliberately make some hideous and ugly art in order to get out of my comfort zone and break some new ground,

and manipulate it in photoshop to make it into something new and perhaps more beautiful....

I just love the feeling of putting paint onto the canvas.
The joy of painting and looking at others paintings is always in me.
Happiness and art making is good for the heart.

Here is an article I have found on the net by blogger and  perfectionist artist Nancy Howard.

Just incase anyone wants to read about perfectionism and how to overcome it. .

A few months ago I was watching an interesting documentary on the masterpiece painters. They told the tales of how it took some of the painters years and years of painting and repainting a particular portrait or landscape before they felt all was just right--and even then it may not have been right for them. What surprised me was the sheer beauty of their work and yet these great painters were, many times, never satisfied as they always saw the flaws in their own work when no one else could.

That is precisely what I found true with myself-- my need to be perfect was keeping me from ever accomplishing anything I wanted out of life. I would set the bar so high that the minute I fell flat on my face I did what so many others did and that was to give up. Giving up was so much easier than forgiving myself for not being perfect and moving on.

Perfectionism was a crutch, a character flaw for all the world to see, even if no one else saw it, I believe they did. It was what held me back from taking risks and in some way kept me safe and comfortable. If I didn't try, I couldn't fail and if I didn't fail, I was not a failure.

But what if I do fail? Will that be the end of the world? Will I be any less of a person?

Next week as I celebrate my five year anniversary for reclaiming my life and my health, below is a list of what this journey has taught me about accepting my imperfections.

•I am fallible and I will make mistakes- I am not going to say there isn't a sense of anxiety when I do make mistakes, but the more mistakes I make, the easier it is for me to accept my imperfections. I believe we all learn more from the mistakes we make than we ever learn from doing everything perfectly.

•Others do not judge me as harsh as I judge myself - I love it when I read on the message boards how members help one another by saying, "Would you ever speak to a friend like that? Then why would you talk about yourself like that?" Letting go of judgment is by far one of the biggest lessons I have learned from you all. I would certainly never call my friend a 'fat cow' so why is that I would call myself that.

•Love and accept the body I have- In all honesty, when I embarked on my journey I was doing it for my health, but there was a little hope that when I got to my goal weight I would have the body I had back in my college days 25-30 years ago. That has not happened. I am older. I have had a child and my body is what it is. But one thing I can say, my 20 year old body never ran a marathon either, WOO HOO!

•Hold your nose, jump in and either, sink or swim-If you said to me five years ago, "Nancy, you are going to have one of the best jobs in the world doing what you have a passion for and that is helping others reach their full potential, I would have said, yeah, right?" But when SparkPeople approached me 18 months ago, I must say not only was I honored but I was scared to death. What if I failed? What if I couldn't live up to their standards? What if I can't do what they ask me to do? And for the first time in my life, I jumped at the opportunity, and while I can't say I haven't made a mistake, I have learned so much about taking risks. I am swimming!

The past few years have taught me to go out of my comfort zone and as the Nike ad says JUST DO IT! I am taking risks I could have never imagined doing so before I began my journey. In a few short weeks, I will be traveling solo to New Orleans to run in the Rock 'N Roll Mardi Gras Half/Full Marathon. Never would I have pictured myself traveling alone and running with 20 other Spark Friends I have met over the years. This is allowing me to break the mold of perfection and appreciate all the flaws that make me who I am.

Have you allowed your need for perfection to stand in your way of achieving your goals? Do you judge yourself more harshly than others judge you? What risks would you like to take on in the next year even if it means you run the risk of failing?

Creative Quote of the Day
I'm never pleased with anything, I'm a perfectionist, it's part of who I am.

Michael Jackson
 (Need I say more?)

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