I must admit that I awakened today feeling a bit overwhelmed. As I thought of all the things I need to accomplish today, I sit here this morning at my computer wondering how I will ever get everything done. I even considered not writing here today, but since I haven't written in the past two days I really didn't want to miss again. After all – I think that by putting my thoughts into writing each morning, it really helps keep me organized and grounded and sharpens my focus on what I need to accomplish each day. (See – the blog here isn't just for your entertainment – it helps me a great deal as well!) But I look at the clock and I know that it will march unrelentingly through time and before I know it, another day will be crossed off the calendar on the wall and another day would have passed. They just move much too quickly!
I honestly don't think that I wasted much time this past weekend. I barely cooked. I didn't socialize much online and I stayed pretty much focused on the tasks that I set out to do. Yet – before I knew it, it was Sunday night and I was pretty tired and I realized that the weekend had passed in what seemed like a blink of an eye. Although I accomplished what I had set out to do, my initial thoughts were to have it done by Saturday evening, not Sunday evening.
Once again my downfall is my gross lack of ability to estimate how much time something takes me to do. It has always been my nemesis. It is the beast that I cannot tame. Perhaps my optimistic thinking bleeds out a bit too far sometimes?
Yes. That must be the case. The thoughts in my head just seem to move so quickly, it is difficult for my body to keep up.
Certainly that must be the problem. I am beginning to think that I need to admit defeat and not get upset or anxious about it. Perhaps it is just a part of my make-up and embedded in my soul. Perhaps that is the price I need to pay for being creative. If that is the case, I need to come to terms with it and accept it as part of the process. That way I will at least find peace and not beat myself up for not finishing things quickly enough.
I have read stories and accounts of many of the great artists and their creations. Many of them took years to complete. Be it composers, builders or even painters, something that I haven't recalled seeing is that they worked quickly and without stumbling. I need to keep that in mind.
Don't get me wrong – I am in no way comparing myself with the great artists which I am referring. But part of me thinks that sometimes we forget that doing something well may take some time. Everything can't be done quickly. Not if we are going to do our best. It is hard to remember that sometimes.
We live in a world of instant gratification in so many aspects of our lives. Whether we are communicating with our friends, buying supplies, or even ordering food, we expect what we want to be in our hands almost instantly. Technology has played a huge part in fast-forwarding our lives and allowing us to do more than we ever thought possible.
But with that privilege comes a bit of sacrifice. We sometimes lose the pleasure of anticipation. The excitement of 'what is to come' can be as thrilling as the thing or event itself. I am old enough to remember the thrill of receiving a letter in the mail. I also remember the wonderful smells that filled our home when a scrumptious meal was cooking in the oven. I loved the anticipation of waiting week to week for my favorite television shows to play. Some of these things are long forgotten in today's world.
I feel the same about my art. To me, it isn't only the final results that brings me joy, but the process itself. My "A Perfect World" embroidery sampler is a fine example of that for me.
I began it in March and I am giving myself a year to complete it. If it takes longer, so be it. For I believe that I will find more pleasure in the journey than anything else.
We have somewhat conditioned ourselves to work at a frighteningly fast pace to do most of the tasks we need to do. The 'more is better' mentality to me, isn't something that is always positive. I find that when I push so hard to accomplish so much in a short amount of time, I lose the pleasure of the process and I find that takes away not only from the finished product, but the journey along the way. I don't always allow myself to savor the joy of being an artist – whether it be in woodworking or painting or embroidery – and the loss of that joy is a shame.
So I take a breath. Calm my thoughts. Slow down a bit and try to remember why I am doing what I am doing in the first place. Usually that causes me to come back to a place where I don't feel so anxious and once again I take in all that I am doing instead of just going through the motions and once again that delightful anticipation returns. Sometimes it just takes some conscious thought about it.
That is where I find myself today. Taking the time to be aware of what I am doing. Taking the time to enjoy the process without feeling guilty or anxious because I am not doing it fast enough. Even just writing the words here helps me absorb these feelings.
I spent the weekend re-painting my next Painting With Friends pattern pieces inspired by Terrye French. The adorable Christmas Pull Toys came out even better the second time around, I think:
When I design a painting pattern, the first time I paint it I am kind of 'guessing'. Especially when I am not working with a realistic subject right in front of me. I try this or try that to see what looks good. Some parts work out, and some don't.
After the initial design is done, I usually re-paint the piece(s) a second time. This time I know where I am going and have a clear direction for my painting. I take the time to take step-by-step photos, I adjust colors and techniques, and it is much easier to refine the patterns and make them into something that I really had in my vision when I began. While many of you won't notice the subtle adjustments that have been made to these, I see them very clearly and in my heart I know that I have improved vastly on the original design. It are these unseen steps that I feel make my patterns nice and good for those who paint them.
I had originally thought that I would have the patterns completed by the weekend, and while they are close, they are not done yet.
Did I waste my time re-painting these pieces?
I am extremely pleased with the outcome, and the painting process was pure joy for me. Along the way I took many high quality photos so that I will have complete, comprehensive step-by-step patterns that I will be proud to put my name on. I believe they will be worth the wait.
So it is with my head held high that I tell you today that "I'm not finished yet." For I know that when I DO finish, the quality of the pattern will be that which I hope you associate with me. Because of that, I hope that you all will have the same amount of fun and joy painting these pieces that I did.
I almost got sucked into the trap of looking to my side to see what others were doing and how quickly they produce things. But not only are my observations of what they do in all probability inaccurate, but I also need to remind myself that we all work at our own unique pace. I am best to mind my own 'p's and q's'. My pattern will be ready when it is meant to be ready, and it will be something that I will be happy with, as it will be my best effort. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this anticipation for the world!
Thank you to all who have encouraged me along the way.
I wish you all a wonderful and creative Monday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"