, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


How play helped me to release perfectionism and be happier with my art!

I’m an artist! Yay!

I make pictures and share them with people…

And I get sad that they are never quite what was in my head.

So many creative people have this exact same problem – and if you don’t, I salute you! please share how you get round it 🙂 – our skills are not quite up to our imaginations. The images in my mind are fabulous, colourful, flowing, alive. The pictures I make are delicate, and often a little twee… and never quite what I saw before I set the lines down on the page.

A couple of years ago I despaired of ever making anything that matched my feeling of what would be good enough, no matter how other people told me it was lovely. I know the usual advice; to accept it as it is, to know that it is lovely, to listen to the encouraging words of others. I’m sure you know exactly what I mean when I say that, while helpful, these suggestions don’t quite heal that disconnect between ideal and skill… and the sense that what you make isn’t quite good enough! I can see all the mistakes in my art, all the bits where it isn’t up to my internally exacting standards.

I can’t recall what made me think of it, but I do know that I was thinking about Passion and play when I came across an actual solution. My thought process went a little like this:

What if, instead of starting with an idea and struggling to make it real, I chose to play and see what emerged?

But how?!

Hang on, I’ve got some lovely acrylic inks which I never use because I can’t control them… what if I take this straw, and some card, and those inks…

Drip, drip, drip of colours on the page…

Deep breath in and gently blow…

Play with long breaths and puffs of air, angles, turning, tipping the page…

And then, see what happens!

I played with dripping glass paints on canvas board and ink on card, with different combinations of colours, with white paint and black pen, after the colours had settled, to draw out the images I saw within.

And I relaxed.

The swirl of colours, more or less beyond my control, allowed for a playful approach and I could no longer cling to the urge to make what was on the page match what was in my mind.

Playing like this encouraged me to let go or the specifics of results, and now, when I pick up pastels or pencil, I can let my hands flow and the images and patterns appear on the page. Not always, but mostly.

Not only could I make pictures without worrying about what will emerge, now when I have a specific idea I want to get down, I’m less attached to the exact placing of the lines and can allow it to grow more organically and its easier to see the merits of the piece rather than constantly comparing it to what I wanted it to look like.

The next step, I guess, is to see how I can apply this to other areas of my life!!!

How do you get past the disconnect between skill and ideas? How do you let go in the process to let go of the results? Let me know if you use this technique, I’d love to hear how you find it!