Instant gratification is not enough for me. I want instant perfection.
As a late bloomer, I struggle with the need to “arrive”. When some of my gifts did start to unfold, a need to make up for lost time drove me to succeed. I had to be the best at art, theatre, writing, anything and everything that I put my mind to. The goal: gain perfection in at least one, if not several areas, to hide the shame of being “slow”, “uneducated”, “academically backwards”, etc.
(This is apart of my “Superwoman” complex.)
One of the great frustrations of my life is that blooming is a process not a single event. That should be a comfort to me. We aren’t limited to one blossom opening up and adding to beauty! We grow, and change, and impact the world in different ways at different times all throughout our lives. The fact that rose bushes put out multiple buds, all opening and fading as they will, is a wonderful way to look at ourselves or others.
We have never arrived. We are never beyond hope.
And yet, I often get weary of the blooming process. I don’t want to have to struggle for excellence.
I’m tired of having fought so hard for simple things like being able to tell the difference between P’s and B’s and understanding basic rules of grammar. I am at a loss to understand how sometimes I am able to draw and the next time I pick up the pencil I have forgotten all about the art. Fighting the same sins of self-righteousness, selfishness, and addiction gets discouraging, even in the midst of gaining ground, because it isn’t enough ground, it isn’t gained fast enough.
Maybe you can relate.
The area that has been causing me most frustration at the moment is the area of drawing. Back in 2008 when I took “Drawing II” at NCC with my wonderful Professor Isadore LaDuca gave me feedback about my work. He said many encouraging things, but one thing he noted was that I would seemingly at random produce projects of great caliber and great disaster. For whatever reason my skill was not consistent.
It still isn’t, though I am less likely to draw flops as I was back in 2008. But they still happen. Here are some embarrassing examples.
This was my second attempt at the cover for my sister’s children book that I am illustrating. The first attempt was worse. There are sections of this drawing I love, but for some reason, I was not able to draw their faces, even though I had just recently completed a good portrait of a dear friend of mine in pastel.
This is an in progress shot of my current illustration for my sister’s book. The faces are better, but still there are perspective issues, and I drew the grid marks too dark to be able to erase them. Photoshop can fix that when I go to put the book together for publication, but it infuriates me that after ten years of seriously studying art, I cannot draw a grid correctly!
Here is my second attempt at an illustration cover for my grandfather’s commentary on Galatians. I gave up once the woman’s face was beyond saving.
This is much better but still flawed.
Artistically, this year has been difficult. I created a greater amount of work that were more technically proficient last year when I was still recovering from an injury that almost severed my drawing hand. It’s not that I haven’t accomplished any good drawings this year, but it hasn’t been as effortless.
Why is this year harder? Who knows? But I’ve learned something over the past 11 months of trying to draw.
Even though my work isn’t attaining the instant perfection that I desire, the process of failing and trying again is valuable.
In the illustration for my grandfather, I learned that while I can come up with a concept and a sketch in my mind for an illustration, I need real faces, tress, clothing, etc., to reference for the actual drawing.
My current illustration project has taught me that I have to be more careful about drawing the grid lines.
To be honest, I don’t know what I learned from the two failed covers, but I know the practice drawing will not be wasted.
Instant perfection would be gratifying, but I would learn little if the skills were uploaded into my brain like the Matrix. So while I’m not thrilled or proud of my failures, I am trying to accept the process.
What about you? What are some areas that you are trying to improve? Does the process discourage or encourage you?