Loosening Up





I’ve been looking at other cupcake paintings and the ones I’m drawn to are more impressionistic and painterly.  So for this time around, I decided to loosen up my brushwork a bit.  This is super difficult for me to do as I identify myself as a MAJOR perfectionist.  I most likely have a certain level of OCD because little things drive me up the wall.  Like right now, I’m looking at the rug in my family room that needs to be vacuumed.  When the light hits it at an angle, I can see every footprint. It makes me crazy. 🙁  In fact, please excuse me, I need to take a vacuum break.

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Ahh, much better.  In all seriousness, this has been a daily struggle of mine my entire life.  For example, for years I used to vacuum the house every day no matter what.  We changed carpets to low-pile berber and got faux hardwood for the family room, but I recently bought a rug and ironically now I vacuum THAT every day instead.  Recently, a friend told me, “you need to go to a carnival, go on some rides and let your hair get messed up.”  She’s probably right.

Perfectionism is the enemy to creativity.  Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way” sees it this way: “Perfectionism has nothing to do with getting it right. It has nothing to do with fixing things. It has nothing to do with standards. Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead. It is a loop—an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details of what you are writing or painting or making and to lose sight of the whole. Instead of creating freely and allowing errors to reveal themselves later as insights, we often get mired in getting the details right. We correct our originality into a uniformity that lacks passion and spontaneity. ‘Do not fear mistakes,’ Miles Davis told us.  There are none.”  (I’m inserting one of my favorite quotes from Bob Ross ‘there are no mistakes, only happy accidents.’ :))  “The perfectionist fixes one line of a poem over and over—until no lines are right. The perfectionist redraws the chin line on a portrait until the paper tears. The perfectionist writes so many versions of scene one that she never gets to the rest of the play. The perfectionist writes, paints, creates with one eye on her audience. Instead of enjoying the process, the perfectionist is constantly grading the results. The perfectionist has married the logic side of the brain. The critic reigns supreme in the perfectionist’s creative household. A brilliant descriptive prose passage is critiqued with a white-glove approach: “Mmm. What about this comma? Is this how you spell … ?” For the perfectionist, there are no first drafts, rough sketches, warm-up exercises. Every draft is meant to be final, perfect, set in stone.  Midway through a project, the perfectionist decides to read it all over, outline it, see where it’s going. And where is it going? Nowhere, very fast.  The perfectionist is never satisfied. The perfectionist never says, “This is pretty good. I think I’ll just keep going.” To the perfectionist, there is always room for improvement. The perfectionist calls this humility. In reality, it is egotism. It is pride that makes us want to write a perfect script, paint a perfect painting, perform a perfect audition monologue. Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough—that we should try again. No. We should not. “A painting is never finished.  It simply stops in interesting places,” said Paul Gardner.  A book is never finished. But at a certain point you stop writing it and go on to the next thing.  A film is never cut perfectly, but at a certain point you let go and call it done.  That is a normal part of creativity—letting go.  We always do the best that we can by the light we have to see by.”

With this in mind, I decided that every once in a while I need to discipline myself to let go… at least with my art.  Even though I didn’t make any drastic leaps, experimenting with brushwork is a baby step in the right direction and I’m really happy I did it!  So if you’re like me and happen to be a perfectionist, I encourage you to do something today to loosen things up a little.

Oh, and by the way, I welcome any comments.  Do you struggle with OCD or perfectionism?  What are your pet peeves?  What quirky things do you do?  I would love to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this. 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Loosening Up

  1. i think it ate my comment because I used an emoji. Dang it. I had a lovely post about how I’m learning to loosen up in the world of two kids and how it’s hard but my kids are happier. And I think it’s gone now. Grr. Well thank you for your words! I appreciate your advice above! I’m a major perfectionist and in working hard to let good enough be enough!

    • I’m sorry..that’s a bummer! But yeah, it’s a tough adjustment with having kids and then trying to keep it all together like we did before we had children. As moms, there are too many unrealistic expectations in the media and even among other moms, our schools and church communities. But life happens.:) I struggle with this, (my poor family has to deal with me) but every day I’m taking baby steps in the right direction and like you said ‘letting good enough be enough.’ (love that!) 🙂

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