Overcoming perfectionism in art

"Drawing is a kind of hypnotism." -Pablo Picasso

watercolour study Lady in Red

Hubby would be the first one to agree that drawing and painting have hypnotizing effects on me. He might ask me something and it sounds like waaaah, waaaaah, waaaah, waaaaah background noise.

Dirty dishes pile up, dust balls float under the table, and soups burn on the stove when I am in the middle of a painting session.

During that time, the puddles of paint and the fluid movements created by my Aquash Water Brush are the only things that matter. Hubby knows that he has to get my attention in a rather dramatic way when he sees me under the influence of my waterpaints.

And portrait painting in any medium is particularly hypnotizing. I get caught up with minute details (are the eyelashes curving the right way? is there shading under the left nostril? what about the gleam in her eye?) as I attempt to achieve a likeness to the model or photo.  In this example, I really wanted to get a close match to my oldest granddaughter.  This was one of her birthday gifts last year.  http://louiseprimeau.com/mya-at-ten-years-old-prismacolor-pencil-with-pan-pastels-on-canson-mi-teintes/

But this is not today's art. I am not trying for perfectionism in this week's studies. In fact, let's start by throwing perfectionism out the door!

Perfectionism has no place in the art room, or in my case, the kitchen, when I am learning to use watercolours and experimenting with different techniques. Besides, water wants to do its own thing and patience is the first requirement needed more than the quest for perfection.

I have learned for example, to walk away after I have applied watercolour to paper.  Watercolour needs time to dry or I will mess it up. I usually have some chore or other waiting to distract me for a few minutes while my painting dries. Checkmark next to that lesson.

Study in watercolour - vintage in blue

My recent little studies (4X6 inches) as well as any other portrait work, are numbered and I have set myself a goal to complete 356 studies: a lofty target, right? Go big or don't go at all, I say!

They will not all be on watercolour paper (all part of the experimentation to come) and probably not completed within one calendar year either, but who knows? However, I expect some studies to be done more quickly than others.

Vintage Victory Rolls watercolour girl

Of course that all depends on whether or not I allow myself to keep reworking each study for hours on end, letting my quest for perfection throw a wrench in my plans to get more of these studies done.

I have to accept that I must move on and let the study stand as it is: a learning opportunity, or one step among many in bettering myself as an artist.

Victory rolls on vintage girl in watercolour

I have slices of a birch trunk ready to be experimented on as well as tea bags and coffee filters, all waiting to be recycled with art work, even labels and stamps could be fun to use in some way if my eyes are good enough to allow me to draw and paint on such a small scale.

Below is my first teabag girl.

First teabag girl

If you think this is strange, you are not alone. Hubby asked me why would I want to paint on a teabag.

I know it sounds crazy and even more so when you see the used teabags lined up on a plate on my counter, in various stages of readiness for art. ( And let me tell you that the square teabags such as you see in the photo above are not easy to come by. Most of the tea we buy is in folded up rectangular bags.)

I guess one answer is that it is supposed to be quick. HA! Let me repeat that...HA! I started the portrait with a graphite outline on my one and only teabag, then I put down a layer of white oil pastel. Over that I tried white and pink Prismacolor pencil to get more of a flesh colour.

Soon, I noticed that the teabag was starting to shred. YIKES! Well, if I am to experiment, I might as well go full out, no holds barred.

I brought the unfinished teabag into my art room where I do the more messy work. With a mix of watercolours and acrylic paint, (yes, I know, strange mixture indeed), I managed to get something that resembled a young woman surrounded by flowers painted on the teabag.

Yes, it was completed in less time than the watercolour studies simply because the teabag, having served its first duty in providing me with a hot drink, became exhausted in its second life with my various attempts at getting the portrait just right, (remember my obsession with minute details and perfection?) and I had to just stop before I ripped the teabag and ruined the whole thing.

I can't say that she is the way I would like her to be, that is, she is far from perfect. And this is the thing...the teabag just might be the ticket to my way out of working with details. It just might help me loosen up a bit. Remember, I said I was throwing perfectionism out the door!

It's worth a try! So she will be my number 11 and I guess I will have to drink more tea! And if you visit me, I won't have to explain the teabags drying on my kitchen counter, nor the dirty dishes in the sink, or the burnt soup on the stove.

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