Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Learning to Play

Last spring I wrote about perfectionism here. My Little Miss Perfect was in full swing when I came home from Texas and amassed lots of supplies and books to help me learn about and improve in working with pastels. Trouble was, I hated making drawings of outdoor scenes and still lifes. I am able to make things look 'real' but I don't like the process. I get all tight and anxious about the finished piece. It's not much fun for me. But I tell myself that's what I'm 'sposed' to do.

So here I was, with all these new supplies, and I wasn't using them. As you might imagine, the guilt set in. I longed to loosen up with the pastels, but whenever I stared at that big sheet of paper, I felt like I had to make some 'real' art. Then a couple of experiences allowed me to find a new way. I hope my learning might help you, too, if you're faced with perfectionism.

Recently, I spent a fun and inspirational afternoon taking an Artist Journal workshop with Fran Meneley in Longmont. Although I'd done some collage, written a journal off and on for years, and done some sketching of ideas in my journals, this was my first attempt at the 'artist' journal.

It was intriguing and puzzling. Was it 'supposed to' be pretty, personal, artsy or raw? What's my style? Well, as I relaxed into making pages over the next few weeks, I realized it was all those things. Although I tend to value the raw over the pretty. Pretty gets my perfectionist thang going.

Last weekend I attended Boulder's Open Studios tour. One of my favorites was Caroline Douglas, a clay artist with a wonderful imagination. She had several small watercolor and pastel working sketches in her studio that reflected the way I long to play with pastels. I want to make imaginary pictures. Caroline's work showed me the way.

So last night I brought a box of pastels up to my art journaling area in an annex of our kitchen, and I restored my relationship with my pastels! How great to use them in my art journal, where pages are smaller and less 'special' than my pastel paper, so I feel free to experiment!

It can be really tough to let ourselves play. Lots of expectations can trap us. I'm grateful for playful artists like Caroline and Fran, who have shown me the way and helped me give myself permission to have fun. If you're stuck in the perfectionism rut, find a mentor of play, a queen or king of fun, and learn how you can let yourself go. You'll be glad you did!

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