Sometimes I think I am my own worst enemy. There are times – especially when I am designing – that I am very, very hard on myself and just not happy with the way things are going. As a result, the things I do often take a great deal of time for me to complete. I wind up changing things and re-doing them several times before I even show them to you all. There are even times when these projects are scrapped and put in a drawer or completely discarded. Although I am happy to say that doesn't happen often, it does occur.
I don't think that I am different from any other designer or creator in this respect. It happens to us all. We get to an 'ugly stage' on a project and just can't work our way through it. While it may not be a fun time in our work, it definitly has a purpose. I believe it is times like this when we are learning the most about whatever we are doing. We only need to be open to and receptive to the lessons in front of us and work our way through them. They make us better at what we do.
I thought about the year so far as we entered the month of May. The year 2016 is already a third over. It is kind of hard to believe. Usually winter seems to pass slowly, but this year it seems that we just blinked and here we are on the brink of summer already.
As I thought about this and tried to find the reason for this perception, I realized that it feels this way in a large part because I have been so busy with my work. I have not only filled a large number of wood orders, but I have been exploring some new media to create with and spent just about every spare moment learning. It has been exciting and fun and is opening even more doors for me and my business. It makes me happy.
When I look at my new pattern count for the year, it seems quite low. If one were to judge me by that, they would certainly think I was being lax and resting on my previous achievements. But behind the scenes, I am not only working on more of my own designs and exploring new avenues to create, but I am also collaborating with several designers that have become friends and working with them on new projects. While I am not at liberty to share these projects until they are presented, I assure you they are all fun and exciting. This is where I need to be patient and step back a bit and allow things to just come when they are ready. I will show them when the time is right.
Because of this, I haven't posted to the blog here as often. I am sure you all had your fill of seeing the piles of wood I cut in a session, and other times things just aren't ready to present. I want you to know though that these slight lulls usually mean that there is something exciting to come. A new project or idea that is developing and may not quite be ready to present. A new direction.
I worked this weekend extensively on a new project that I am creating for Interactive Artist Magazine. I had shown my first run of it to you a couple of weeks ago. It is a watercolor painting of a seahorse, created with beautiful Mission Gold Watercolors.
The media is new to me. I have not worked in watercolors previously and it is quite different from the other types of drawing and painting that I have attempted.
I struggled a bit, but I was not unhappy with my first effort. I even used two color palettes to further train myself on the use of values.
But after doing that I froze. I was very pleased with the outcome of these two paintings and while finishing up a couple of projects in between, I lost my nerve and wondered if I could ever replicate it again. The process of painting something and teaching someone else to paint the same thing are quite different. Just because you can paint well, doesn't necessarily mean you can teach others to do so. It is something that many don't consider.
I had to begin all over again. While these designs came out nice, they were too much back and forth to make any real sense of things. What they needed was to be recreated by using a step-by-step, methodical process that the average artist would be able to follow and understand. I had to recall what colors worked for me and figure out how to lay them down in a way that someone even newer to the medium could follow along with. It was quite the challenge for me.
After several attempts, I think I finally 'got it'. (Yes – I said SEVERAL). It took many trials and many errors, but things were finally sorting themselves out in my head and things 'clicked'. The fog lifted and I could see a clear path to follow as I once again recreated the seahorse. While it took a great deal of time, it felt wonderful to see it come to be. I went from being scared and feeling lost to painting with organization and confidence and I think the result is something that I can be proud of. I will feel good about offering this pattern and I feel that it will be something that a painter with even little experience can recreate. I am happy.
As I applied each layer, I saw it come to life and what I created on paper actually matched what I envisioned:
As I added the final details, I knew in my heart that I had finally 'gotten it'. Things connected and the part of explaining things would not be difficult.
I took probably over 100 photographs of the process, and they will not only help to remind me of the steps, but clarify them for the students. I am sure that it will be a pattern that I am proud of, and I hope that others will learn as much from it as I did. I think they will.
So today I will be working on the photos as well as the writing of the instructions. It will probably take most of the day and I will be happy if by tomorrow I can call it finished. It took a bit longer than I would have anticipated, but I feel that the final result is very much worth it. Quality over quantity.
I think that you can apply this train of thought to many aspects of your life. While we live in a world where we want everything to be done instantly, there are some things that just take time to complete correctly. There is nothing wrong with that. For I would rather product 10 excellent patterns each year than 100 mediocre designs. I know that is what my students and customers have come to expect from me and I am happy that I have set that standard for myself. It allows me to be truly proud of the work that I do and have the confidence to keep creating.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Happy Monday to you all!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"