I’ve been trying an experiment lately.
Instead of waiting to do any art-making until after I’ve completed the rest of my morning ritual (which can hear all about here), I’ve been taking 15 minutes first thing after I wake up to draw in bed.
I always say, “The thing I do first is the thing that gets done,” and when life gets busy (which is most of the time, really!), it’s all too easy for creative sandbox play to not happen at all…
Hence this experiment: unless I have to rush to be somewhere (which rarely happens, because I do my best to avoid morning appointments!), at least I get 15 minutes of art time to start the day.
And that makes me happy!
Feeding my creative hungers makes my day go better.
Here’s today’s morning doodle, which I also sent out in my ArtSpark Newsletter. (Not an ArtSpark subscriber? Sign up here.):
I actually drew the shapes a few days ago, but today I decided to play with the line quality to see how that would look.
It’s slow, meticulous work. VERY different from the style I’ve been working in for the past five years or so!
ALL of my art used to be meticulous, both in execution and planning: precisely executed papercuts, intricately detailed illuminations — everything planned in advance to the last detail.
I appreciate the meditative state I get into when I work this way, but my tendency with this kind of slow, meticulous work is to get very perfectionistic.
Perfectionism immediately brings out the gremlins, and then it stops being fun…
And that stops ME in my tracks.
Rebelling Against Perfectionism
Perfectionism has been such a joykill, that for the past 5+ years I’ve been rebelling against it, in my art, and in my life in general.
The creative work I’ve been making, and the underlying theme of my work, is intentionally IMperfectionistic.
I spent too much of my life believing that value = perfection, and anything less than perfect was stupid, worthless, embarrassing.
THAT was paralyzing…
Now I’m interested in finding the beauty in the unplanned mess, the rough, the irregular, the uncontrolled…
The unstated question before was, “Why bother if I can’t do it perfectly?”
The unstated question now is, “Can there be beauty and value in my work if it’s imperfect, loose, messy, and rough?”
My art (and music and writing) has been a conscious attempt to unravel four decades of perfectionism, and perfectionist paralysis.
Now, it seems, I’m asking whether it’s possible for me to blend the two — loose spontaneity and meticulous detail — without getting sucked back into perfectionism.
The Antidote to Perfectionist Paralysis
I’m not suggesting that working loose and spontaneous is right for everyone — that simply happens to be my chosen way of working.
And to be fair, I’ve never lost my attention to detail; I merely choose to embrace detail in a freer way, and the doodle above represents a return to… not tightness, exactly, but certainly meticulousness.
So I’m curious if I can incorporate this blending of loose and not-loose, and stay out of perfectionist paralysis.
One thing I know for sure: the key will be to follow the precepts of my Creative Sandbox Manifesto:
- There is no wrong.
- Think process, not product.
- Think quantity, not quality.
- Think tiny and daily.
- Just start. Anywhere.
- Ask, “What if..?”
- Take the riskier path.
- Dismiss all gremlins.
- Spring the Comparison Trap.
- Treat yourself with compassion.
Here it is in visual form, next to my Imperfectionist Manifesto:
And here’s a tip: sign up below to download the poster for FREE, and you’ll find a surprise, too.
Something special that will help you integrate these Creative Sandbox concepts into your life, and transform your relationship to your creative spirit in a week! 🙂
Download the poster and let my Creative Sandbox principles get you out of perfectionist paralysis and back to creative joy!