Listening, Perfectionism, and Taking Risks
In week 7 of The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron tasks us with reflecting on the attitudes that serve our creativity. One way I personally connected with this week is the urge to listen to your inner artist but to also listen to each individual project and allow it to have a say. Towards the end of my journey with The Artist's Way, I had purchased myself a new set of watercolor paints and watercolor pens. I was on the phone with my sister and expressed to her how my meditation focus for the week was on patience and I was going to work with watercolors to practice the art of patience. I have avoided watercolors as an art medium ever since I left elementary school. I told my sister how I felt that watercolors become too chaotic for me on my paper and I can never gain control over where I put color. She very wisely told me "Sometimes you control the water but sometimes the water controls you." It is this quote that has stuck with me when I approach each new project. I have a preconceived notion of what I want a piece to look like. In the end, it is up to my hands, my materials, and my canvas to determine my end result.
My ability to listen to myself and my struggled with perfectionism often work as perfect frenemies. I have a goal to meditate daily. While meditating or writing my morning pages, I will hear or get flashes of the beginning of a writing piece or an art project. I sit with these moments of color or snippets of words that light up in my head and wait. I wait for the project to reveal more of itself to me. If I get distracted from my initial idea, I immediately write it down on a list I carry in my phone. It is when an idea won't leave my mind I know I am truly ready to sit down and honor it. That is when my perfectionism self-talk will take hold. I have a huge issue with first drafts and editing. I have suffered from the idea that if it cannot be right the first time, it is not worth doing it at all. It has turned me into an adult who only wants to sit down and do a project in one sitting. A symptom of my perfectionism is I am quite the pouter when it comes to the editing process. Also, if I know an art project will take multiple sittings or more steps than I have time, then I refuse to begin it. Week 7 made me realize how selfish perfectionism is and how it takes my connection to the work out of the equation. If I am to honor my idea and let it take life, I need to set aside my pride and allow the work to take on its own identity. When I can cast aside my perfectionism and the idea I can get everything "just right", that is when I'm ready to take risks.
The quote that stands out to me in this week's notes is "I choose to risk my pride and share my art". Here is a sampling of risks that called to me.
Dying my hair any and all colors
Performing my poetry live
Learning video shooting and editing
Taking more art classes
Being a bad singer on I Can Hear Your Voice
Getting a yoga/meditation teaching certificate
Acting/voice acting lessons
Jealousy, The Fickle Motivator
Cameron likens jealousy to a map. In her metaphor, the jealousy we hold towards others is actually an indicator of our ultimate dream. In jealousy, we forget that someone did not beat us to our dream, we can both yearn for the same goal. She had us list out people we were jealous of, the reason why, and then the action we could take for ourselves as an antidote to our green envious eyes. When I read over the list of people I am jealous of, I notice some common threads. All of the people I listed are women who I know through their art. They're modeling, selling artwork, filled with music, running small businesses, and other things I have never had the guts to do. When I read through my antidotes, they all urged me to create and then share those creations. I should be taking more photos of myself and my work. I should make elaborate postings about my artwork online to strum up interest. I could also be doing a better job at keeping this blog on a schedule and telling my story. I never invest money into myself, but what if I took music, art, or dance classes just to see where my talents could stretch if they were trained? The Artist's Way has led me to some stark realizations about my need to stop setting my art aside. But my jealousies were there all along trying to make me face this sooner. Luckily, I have never acted in cruelty or avoidance when it comes to the women I listed. I can admit that my jealousy is linked to my strong admiration to their strengths and the boldness I have watched them exhibit as they live out their dreams. I do not believe that because they have found success for themselves, it means that there is less success for me. Success isn't broken into slices of pie, it is infinite and can be handed to anyone who will put in the work and heart to take it.
An Artist Date Between Two Sisters
My sister and I were given some different variations of the same craft project for Christmas. My sister had taught herself how to embroider during the quarantine and I had recently learned how to cross-stitch. This is how we both ended up with cross-stitch patterns for Christmas and my artist date became a tutorial for my sister. Was there cursing? There sure was. Did my sister name call? Yes, but it was only to tell me she was too stupid to count over forty stitches. My sister was dipping her tones into a world where what you're sewing isn't pre-printed on the fabric for you. As she faced the piece of muslin, she said "There are so many tiny dots, how many do I have to count?" She reminded me that math was not her strong suit. When she got through one line of stitches she proudly proclaimed "I did it!" and swiftly quit to play Animal Crossing. Only her husband passed judgement on that choice. I was too happy to be spending an activity I find join in with my sister, even if her stamina wasn't quite the same level as mine. Now we have a monthly crafting video call. Art and its process is meant to be communal and who better to share with than your sister? My parents have been trying to get me to adopt that philosophy for decades.