In An Ongoing Series of Small Steps

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I mentioned in my December 31 post that I continue to be somewhat stuck artistically when it comes to drawing. Nothing will change overnight, and I doubt that sudden change would even be that healthy, really. However, I’ve started spending some time each morning pinning illustrations that I like to this Pinterest board. I zip through really fast, simply pinning anything that speaks to me at all, pushing away the little voice that says, “But that’s not consistent with what you have already pinned” or “You pick the same image over and over again” (this critic also likes to point out to me that I buy the same painting over and over again). I just pin. Pin, pin, pin, immerse, pin.

Immersion. Getting lost in it. This morning I read this post by Terri Windling, whose blog I follow and lurk at, and admittedly often skim because she writes a lot, and a lot of it is about writing, not drawing. I have long understood that perfectionism is, indeed, a problem for me. Starting my art journal late last year was intended to help with that–a completely secret thing where it doesn’t matter what I draw. Even then, I relentlessly critique it. I force myself to cross out a word I spelled wrong and NOT tear out the page and move on. I resist the voice that suggests that my composition lacks balance on the page. Somewhere, underneath that voice, I know that what is valuable; visually and otherwise, is the journal in its totality, not a page with a weird space at the bottom, or a crooked drawing.

As mentioned in her post, I also know exactly who I take into the studio with me; my father. Oh, my father, who encouraged me to make art and then relentlessly, endlessly criticized it and me. All of those events are taped and neatly filed in my brain and I can take them out and relive them anytime. I would like to stop doing that. I would like, very much, to un-invite my father to my work. To close the door before he steps into my studio. My secretiveness about my artwork stems from him pawing through it without permission, sometimes even taking things and adding to them. I drew all the time as a kid, sitting on the floor at the coffee table with a sketchbook and pencil, and my dad sniping constantly, questioning my process, my subject matter, my choices. Eventually he won, and I stopped drawing at the coffee table and took it to my room. And then years later, I would sometimes stop altogether, sometimes for months or even for years. I still do.

I have let go of perfectionism when it comes to sewing, though, so I sew all the time. My father doesn’t know a single thing about sewing, or about costume design, for that matter, and he knows very little about me as stitching artist, because he died before I found this world. He can’t enter this part of my life, he’s never been here before. Other critics, my co-worker who can sometimes be scathing, even, don’t bother me. I can see their jabs as simply their own insecurities, and I know I am very, very good at what I do, even as I have so much to continue to learn. Which is not to say that I don’t sometimes catch myself, particularly at work, wanting to start my project alone, secretly, so no one can question what I am doing, or apologizing for an imperfection before anyone else can criticize it. But I am much, much better at letting go of all of that where sewing is concerned.

Drawing is a lot closer to my core, it is a much more vulnerable process. I took so much of it into my own interior that now it has trouble getting out into the world. I think I took it prisoner when I meant to make it safe. That is something I would like to manage this year; I’d like to let it out of jail. My art journal, my other work, they are all little releases–a little work-release as it were–but the full-on jailbreak is still ahead of me. Terri’s post mentions several keys that might unlock some of the locks, which is very positive.

Tiny, Tiny, Tiny steps.

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