Lessons from the easel.
Art can teach us many new things; problem solving, confidence, a sense of achievement and autonomy, using new equipment and many many more. This was never more apparent than with this last piece of work.
I had decided to paint a piece in the style I usually reserve for my large community murals, a style quite different from my usual way of working. I found a canvas in the loft with a bit of a dent in it, which I thought would serve my purpose. I got started.
I started painting the background and then sketched out with white paint my design plan. I like to see how things evolve when I work but a loose plan is a good idea. I definitely felt a sense of unease but this is okay in the early stages. I worked at it for a few hours at a time. This style is very detailed and the colour combinations need to be just right to give it balance and cohesion. It might look like a happy accident but it wasn't!
Throughout this process I stepped back to look with fresh eyes. I didn't like what I saw, it wasn't 'me', it made me feel uncomfortable. In my heart what I needed to do was a large energetic piece with colours and swirls and freedom but instead I had opted for this tight and refined piece which wasn't serving the self-expression I needed to do. I got half way and feeling despondent, I resolved to just paint over it and start again. I went for a short walk instead.
While I was walking I thought about the work, and how I felt and what this was trying to say to me. I felt uncomfortable. Why? But instead of giving up I decided to push through these feelings of unease until the piece was finished. This feeling of not doing what I initially felt I needed to do was a lesson for me. I knew I needed to do an expressive piece so why did I opt to do something the opposite? I gave this some thought. It is complex but I concluded that my need for a piece of 'finished' work was greater than my need to be expressive. Now, this is okay but the healthier action would have been to do the large expressive piece of work and enjoy the release that brings. Yet again my perfectionist traits are getting in the way of my creativity. Creative expression through art is a very personal thing, it shows vulnerability and raw emotion when used to express this.
I learnt a lot from this piece of work and I am more connected to it for that very reason. I learnt that my perfectionism gets in the way of expressing myself. I learnt that pushing through feelings of discomfort results in feeling proud and satisfied and a sense of achievement. I learnt to trust myself. This learning is priceless, without going through the process of producing a piece of work I wasn't fully committed to, I would not have learnt these lessons.
Art teaches us so much more than we realise.