Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What is the trade off for staying stuck?

Up until today I was using everything in my arsenal to avoid two creative projects. I had become master of procrastination and avoidance. I am using everything and anything as an excuse not to finish two creative projects.
1. The last illustration for Gill's book and
2. My possessed painting
They have both become blocks and I have perfected the art of deflection and procrastination around both. This is ridiculous. I previously built a career on project managing large complex technical projects, pushed through hard core negotiations, managed and mentored others to success. I know how to get things done. I know how to meet deadlines. So what is stopping me?
The real question has become what is my pay off for keeping stuck?

1. The illustration.
Some background: I went to art college to study Visual Communications [1988 – 1990] my dream was to become a children’s book illustrator. I did not see eye to eye with the illustration lecture I was n’t into water colours. In fourth year I found away to express an illustrative style in keeping a collage diary it was left of field in graphics and very ‘arty’. I graduated in 1990 and collage did n't become trendy till about four years later. Because as a nineteen year old I did n't know how to bring my dream to fruition I let it go. I abandoned my dream through not knowing and not finding out. I took up photography I was good at it with flashes of brilliance. I struggled with graphic design I think I was too young to really trust my own design sense. So fast forward through 1990 – 2004 [a career in the localisation industry, reclaiming my creative self, becoming a mom, becoming a professional artist] as my eldest started school I meet a great bunch of women and they inspired me to be the best version of myself that I could be. One of my women, Gill asked me to illustrate a book she had written. I loved it. It was written to be one of those thick cardboard books for small kids. The narrative provided rich inspiration, short sentences in which the brevity of the text flowed from one page to the next and makes it an instant favourite. Ideas flowed. Then it came to the last two images.

and I just don’t seem to be able to move past getting on with the project. It needs to be good – in fear of not being up to scratch I incapacitate myself to try. Or is it that the project is coming to an end it looks like a book that could be published. So I start spiralling into 'But what if?' What if it's no good then I am still without my dream? What if it's not liked? Then I am a bad artist. What if I never finish these illustrations? Then I will never know... but then neither will my friend whom has placed her trust in me.
I've decided to reframe how I am thinking about this illustration really there is only one left. Gill has been way too accommodating about my deadline. So now this is the new perspective: it is a commission. I have set myself a deadline of the 10th of February to complete this project and scheduled appropriate time to do the illustrations compile the book and send a copy to the writer.
And the other boulder:
2. This painting has dictated what it wants done at every step of the way. I thought I was creating it – but I feel I’m just facilitating it. On December 21st 2009 I found myself writing about it on my redbubble journal not wanting to blog here about it.
“I am having a bizarre relationship with a painting.
It insisted that a table be painted off centre to the left.
Fishing wire was added to the legs for texture.
Then that paper dollies be added.
Three layers of tissue paper have been painted, glued and use to build up the layers and texture.
It has been attacked by a metallic crayon and now…
...wants me to paint it purple.
I have resisted all of these stages hoping that they were instants and just that of madness but they prevailed!
I am resisting the purple…
I invoke the right of the ancient Greeks to blame it on my ‘genius’ it is not my doing”
Over Christmas I showed the work in progress to my sister in-law also an artist. In response to her silence I made the excuse 'I never said it was a good painting'. No reaction is the worst thing! But in fact does it matter if it is a good painting or a bad one? It is one. It is a piece of creative expression that has come forth from my hand. I cease. I don't let it develop. It blocks all my creative flow. I know it stands their in my stream of conscious and unconscious thoughts and is like a boulder. Finishing it would release tension and allow for more of the flow. But... what if it is a bad painting? I am a bad painter.
I've realised that sometimes how I work is not enough for me. I am dissatisfied with the quality of my creative work and critic my work ruthlessly. I need to not hold on so tight, just let go. Allow my work to be, it is only work and there will be better paintings and work. There may also be worse paintings or events.

And then just as I was about to turn off twitter this morning to go start painting this appeared tweeted by @Iconic88: You haven't failed until you quit trying. – Anon

I'm feed up not trying.
Staying stuck has its values and we each must level with ourselves about what they are negative or positive.
This year while staying stuck with my possessed painting I did make some decisions about slowing down and letting projects have that creative space to develop.
Being honest with myself on why I am ignoring a painting or not finalising a project is important. To recognise and decide whether or not I am okay with it. Then I can choose to continue and be okay with circumstances or to move past them. I’ve just had the painting hovering as testament that I still struggle with my creative process. Moving past being stuck looks a lot like acceptance this morning. I am just here. Be here. There, over there is for later. Just be here take out your paints and continue.

1 comment:

Rose Hughes said...

The real question has become what is my pay off for keeping stuck? Thanks for sharing this with us all Roisin... it is the question that we all need to ask ourselves at some point.

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