Letting Go Of Perfection

I never know from day-to-day what I am going to create, much less what I will blog about. Both projects are discovering themselves as my day goes on. I will have to be very honest here, both the art and the writing are on the top of my daily “to do” list, but both are the last things I do at the end of the day most of the time. Why? I’m still struggling with putting myself first and letting go of my duties as wife/mother. I’m still making sure the kitchen gets cleaned in the morning, and that there are meals on the table, and every other thing I can think of in between. I’m working on it, but without much success. I will continue to figure this out, and at some point (hopefully) I’ll learn to ignore that the floor needs to be swept. (Disclosure: I can’t eat at those restaurants where they have rude wait staff and peanut shells on the floor. I cannot stand rudeness, and absolutely cannot eat in a place that has a dirty floor. I don’t know why I feel the need to share this, except that maybe it lets you know me just a little better. One might think by reading that, that I am a neat freak. Far from the truth. My house is clean, very clean, well at least as clean as a house with three cats and a twenty-two year old male can be, but I’m messy. I think I mentioned that before, I mean the me being messy part, again for no particular reason…)

I brought all of the above up because I (as regular readers might know by now) am struggling with not being good enough or perfect in my art. Tonight I had a little breakthrough. I didn’t work earlier today because of anything more than it was really hot here today, and unusually humid. Hot plus humid equal lethargic for me. I just wasn’t in the mood. Not that I didn’t try. I made a few pathetic attempts at something with clay, and although I promised to put up all work, warts and all, I didn’t even come up with something I could photograph even as an attempt. So at the magic hour of seven p.m., which seems to be turning into my starting time, I began a watercolor painting. My breakthrough was that I didn’t sweat it at all. When I do a rough sketch for a painting I worry over every little detail. I measure and fuss over the drawing being just right. I didn’t measure tonight. I just sketched, and then I just painted. In a moment I had the thought that the reality is, unless I am painting a well-known monument, the people who see my work are more than likely to never see the photo I use as inspiration, or into my brain to see where ideas spring from there (God forbid!). I started out tonight feeling like I was doing homework again, but then I relaxed, I let the process and my enjoyment of it take over. The finished project, a watercolor and ink inspired by a photo I took in Carmel, California, isn’t perfect. The perspective isn’t perfect. I am not perfect, and I’m learning to be content with all of it.

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I Am An Artist

The sun is still out. Although it’s after seven, I am so happy with myself for taking some time today to really work. I finished a piece of art today because I wanted to, and not because bedtime was looming and I still hadn’t produced for my blog project. It is a pastel and pencil drawing.Image

 

As always I had no idea what I wanted to do when I started. I looked around my studio and at some photos that I had either taken myself, or at some time in the past clipped from a magazine for the “to do” pile. There are a lot of pictures in that pile, I’m ashamed to say how many. I took more than two thousand photos in Paris in 2009, that makes up most of the pile. I reassured myself continually that I would some day “work”. Setting aside ideas made the illusion seem that much more real. As long as I had projects for the future it meant I wasn’t giving up on myself, when in fact I had given up a long time ago. That again is another source of pain for me. When I think of the countless hours I spent organizing my photos, my supplies, and rearranging my studio, I could cry. All it was was a way to avoid the reality of not being good enough. Money spent, not wasted so to speak because the supplies are all still there waiting to be used, but I honestly have enough “stuff” to fill three lifetimes. I was playing at being an artist. Doing a project here and there so I could lay claim to the title because it was the only part of me that I hadn’t given to my family. I stopped working a time-clock job in 1994, I did a few murals in Chicago, did more than my share of craft shows, and even entered a painting that was accepted into a museum show here in town. The reality is I gave all of me to my husband and children. Do I have regrets? Yes, but none having to do with time I gave them, but for the hours lost when Dan was at work and the kids were in school when I could have given myself permission to be more than “mom” or “wife”. Instead I felt guilty of every moment I gave myself. Days were spent cleaning, rearranging, making things as special as I could for them. They all have nightmare memories of craft shows, when the night before they were frantically helping me to finish things because I hadn’t given myself the time. I’m sure more than a few people wondered how many strip clubs my husband went to, he was covered in glitter for days. And at the shows I found myself being approached by people asking me why I was there, telling me my work was too good. I didn’t have enough faith in myself to believe it.

I have written here before and will write it again and again until I believe it. I am an artist.