Saturday, March 21, 2015

New Moleskine Minus One Monkey Equals ART

Christmas Present - New palette w/DS paint
I haven't been painting much, which disappoints me. Don't get me wrong, I give myself permission to take breaks when I'm feeling uninspired and I even allow for those times when I'm feeling scared and don't know what to paint. I have to admit though, I hate having long periods of drought in mark making. It makes me feel sad as I stare at my unused paint palette and pens. I assume my supplies feel lonely too, being unused for so many, many days.

I have analyzed what happens and I did know it had to do with both starting art and finishing a painting. I had successfully solved the finishing dilemma many months ago with help from Tommy Kane. My problem had to do with perfectionism. If I thought a piece wasn't working, I didn't want to go on and that sometimes even got me to not even start at all. I was really lucky to find an easy solution (although it took me years to bump into it). 

When I took a Sketchbook Skool klass that included Tommy Kane as one of the week's teachers, he said something that changed my dilemma and actually turned my perfectionism on it's ear. He said that he had ONE rule, no matter what, he ALWAYS finished the piece of art he was making. Always. No exceptions. Even if it wasn't going well, he always stuck with it and finished. This gave me an "out" so to speak when it came to my annoying and mostly useless perfectionistic streak. Instead of focusing on the piece being perfect, which paralyzed me many, many times, I focus on finishing the piece. Make FINISHING the perfection I seek. This allows me to use that mean old need for perfection differently. Usually it would stop me from trying but if I changed what I wanted to be perfect, I could use my need for perfection in a good way. It's not about the art, but the finishing of the art that was perfect. TADA!! One problem solved. Even better, I didn't have to find a way of getting rid of my obsessive need for perfection (which, I have to say, so far, has been impossible!). All I had to do was use it in a different way.

Newly used paintbox. Look at those yummy colors!
Now, in this New Year I bumped my head hard against my other problem. I couldn't even define what it was though, all I knew is that it had to do with starting art at all. I knew it didn't have to do with that monkey on many artist's backs, that notion that we're not good enough to create. I just had no idea, if it wasn't that, what was in fact stopping me from starting? I had one small clue but I couldn't figure how how it possibly related to anything. My not starting art got much worse after Christmas when I received my new, beautiful, shiny palette. Somehow just opening and looking at all the beautiful colors was paralyzing! I found the answer from Roz Stendahl, another one of the teachers from SBS. Roz answered another artist having "monkey" troubles and it gave me an Aha moment when she mentioned time. With Roz's permission, here's a little excerpt of what she said that helped so much...
"I think before you can move forward you need to sit down and have an honest chat with yourself about what SPECIFICALLY is going on. For instance, are you not drawing because you think your drawings aren't good enough? Not drawing because you feel you never have time? Each of those has a different necessary response. What are you afraid of?...  Something I always say to my students—If your internal critic or some other aspect of yourself tells you you don't have time to draw, remember that in the time you spend arguing and wrestling with that voice or impulse you could have finished a drawing. Instead, next time just draw and sort out the argument later (which will be never because once the drawing is done their won't be anything to discuss). "
New Daniel Smith paint & paintbox
That was so helpful and freeing to me as I read it. I realized that when I looked at my beautiful palette filled with new Schmincke and Daniel Smith paint, I felt paralyzed because I didn't even know how to use most of these new colors!! So, on top of the idea that I just don't have time to do a piece of art (I'm a slow artist, no painting or drawing happens faster than a few hours!), I also felt that it would add even more time as I learned how to use these new paints. It totally paralyzed me for months. Yes, months. But with Roz's words I finally picked up a pen and made a mark and then added paint. It feels ever so much better to be back at painting again. I'm always surprised when I get over some blind obstacle, how much I think, "why did it take so long?". Well, the answer is that you need to get to know yourself a little better when you hit walls that block you. Thank you Roz.

I'll end with a wonderful quote I've seen from Roz. She says it's originally wisdom from one of her mentors...

"What could I accomplish today if I let go of perfect?"


I'm reading: New Moleskine Minus One Monkey Equals ARTTweet this Post


  1. Hmmm,
    Good internal work here, Jenn. Thanks for sharing this. I am waking up to the idea that it might be part of the problem of being skilled! As you are! I am not skilled with sketching and am constantly surprised at how my drawings seem to turn out okay. I don't have reason to expect great things but you' r been doing well. Isn't that tricky?!
    I love your new palette and want to understand colours more.
    I enjoyed 'Beginnings' immensely by the way, and am looking forward to starting 'Seeing' as soon as they start next semestre.

  2. That's some thinking (and 'solving') you did her jenn... I'm glad to see you back painting. Hope you are well in every aspect of your life. I may not have been around much, but I'm still following ánd loving your! Big hug from Holland, Marit

  3. Been Missing you my friend! Wildly waving and sending you hugs!
    XO Kim


Please leave me a comment, I've sure missed hearing from you!


Related Posts with Thumbnails
^ Scroll to Top