Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Embracing Uncomfortable

I don't know about you, but often when I see art that inspires me I want to try it. I see a gorgeous handmade purse and I want to create my own, I walk by a booth of amazing lampwork beads and I dream of making them, I open a magazine and there's an image of an amazing batik and I go the art store and price dyes and wax. My list is long: I want to etch glass, design fabric and gift wrap, make jewelry, learn bookbinding and make journals, oh, then there are the birdhouses, garden gates, baskets, kids clothes, scarves, hats and other creations swarming in my over zealous mind. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. But here's the thing. I am going to admit this out loud for the first time: I don't enjoy doing things I'm not good at. And to make matters worse, I'm impatient with the learning process and don't generally enjoy classes. Not good, huh? Obviously, this kind of stops me from moving forward, and before you say anything, I'm well aware that I'm missing out. 
I have always said if I have another business I will name it "The Impatient Artist" because I want to do it right now, skip the learning curve and create something beautiful the first time. I want immediate results or I get frustrated and give up. 
I ought to know better by now. Not just because I'm a grown up, but also because the few times I have allowed myself to do this have always been a great experience. (See? I'm learning)
A few years ago I finally decided I just HAD to try making beads and found a local lampworking class. I took two 8-week sessions and worked hard at it. My beads? Well...they were terrible. Week after week I watched the other students progress to make perfect round beads, with the holes dead center. Mine were lumpy and uneven. No matter how I tried they always looked wonky and crooked and amateur. But I loved my little rejects  - they made me happy. I keep them all in a little bowl and I think they are perfect just as they are. 
I've always accepted my limitations with what I imagined to be grace. When I saw portraits, paintings and drawings of people that took my breath away I'd dream of doing my own but I'd think "I can't draw people, realism is not my strength. But that's okay, I have my own fun style." Bullpucky. Truth be told, I yearned to try but didn't want to be the one in the back of the life drawing class watching other people create masterpieces while I struggled. So I just kept doing what I did well and sat in my safe little comfort zone. Yep. I was a big fat chicken.
But then something happened.  A friend showed me a huge book of vintage black and white portraits - photographs from the 1800's. My fascination with vintage photographs is worth saving for another post, but I just have to tell you that these images sparked my creative fire like nothing had in a long time. Something came over me. It was like the first time I saw a box of crayons. 
I just HAD to. 
I heard them whispering to me, but I shook off the "I can'ts" and grabbed my sketchbook. If you're an artist I don't need to explain where time went. There was none, I was just off in that zone, lost, wrapped up in the process and not thinking about good or bad or how to. Pencil hit paper and took me away. A new passion was born and I spent that summer sitting on the deck sketching. And frankly, I love them all. Enough to even show you a few.
So did I learn my lesson and shake off my fears? 
Did I get over myself and take a life drawing class? 
Um. No. 
But today's a new day. I made a vow to myself to Cut That Out Right Now Young Lady. Dance with discomfort, enjoy the first messy versions and and relax a little. Get over myself. And I've recorded it here so it's official, with you all as my witnesses. 
Don't let me off the hook. 


fran imagines said...

Thank you again! You should write a book of artist inspirations ... even if you're not comfortable with the idea (-;
I, for one, love what you do and often wish I could create as you do.

Colleen MacDonald said...

AWESOME post. I can totally relate!

Bruce Haley said...

Oh boy! Can I ever relate to "The Impatient Artist". I never wanted to do something unless I could be the best...and I mean from day one. It wasn't until I found photography that I stuck with something that I wasn't the best at. I'll probably never master it, but I'm sure having fun trying :)


Nancy said...


I just discovered you have a blog! I'll add you to my "favorites."