Thursday, September 18, 2014

Perfection, Personality, and Paralysis
I've always liked things rough around the edges, with an authentic, far-from-perfect, handmade quality about them. But as a young artist, I got caught up listening to art school classmates debate and chatter, and sadly, virtuosity became my goal. 
That pursuit of precision suited my personality not at all. The result: Immobility (or often, crappy work that had nothing to do with my passions or my temperament). 
In attempting to emulate illustrators and artists who were my heroes, my self-talk became hyper-critical, and that most often stopped me dead in my tracks.

Fresh out of art school, my wife and I were renting a tiny bungalow house. 
It had four rooms plus a slice of a room to the north. That's where I made my studio. You can see a bit of it at the left side of the photo. Only slightly wider than my drawing table, it was bright, quaint, and inviting. Or so it should have been.

I spent more time slumped on the couch than in that great little studio, paralyzed by my own expectation and desire for perfection.

I've battled the same demon, on and off, for years. With age, though, that perfection-inspired torpidity has disappeared. Rather than focusing on any goal, I just keep in mind that I'm joggling along on a nicely bumpy and pretty fascinating journey.

Nonetheless, the snide voice in my head that says, "Well that's far from perfect" is not completely neutralized. I've just become more practiced at ignoring it or actively shutting it up.

Sketching is always a no-pressure pleasure, and I obviously still check out and admire great artists and illustrators my friends recommend. Some are pretty darn perfect, some have that scruffly-quality, and I can enjoy looking at both. But where my own work is concerned, I've got to keep to the journey. Marcia Brown, in addition to her gifts of children's illustration, offered this reality-check quote:
"Sheer virtuosity is often more useful in a juggler".

That's a much better voice for me to heed.

Thanks for reading!

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