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Permission To Not Be Perfect

Posted Jan 21 2012 10:19am
I have severe, inflammatory, Crohn's disease.  It's not pleasant.  It's one of the reasons I am struggling with depression.  I spent a long time trying to get my old life back rather than looking ahead and building a new life.  No matter how hard you try, the past is gone.  It's not coming back.  This is something I have to remind myself of daily.
These past few months I have spent a lot of time in bed or sitting in my chair feeling absolutely hopeless and stewing in a great big sulk.  I'm bored with it and quite done with it.  
Instead of sitting there missing what I couldn't do I decided to see what I could do.  I miss my acrylic paints.  Acrylic paints can not be easily used in bed.  I know, I've tried.  It just doesn't work.  So...I decided to try watercolors.  
When I am feeling really miserable I like to draw little creatures.  Things that I make up that can look anyway I want and I don't have to worry about making sure they are perfect.  These are MY creatures and they look whatever way I decide they look.
I had bought some tubes of almost professional grade watercolors, (didn't want to go with the super cheap ones, but...didn't want to spend gobs of money on something that I totally hate, either).  I set up a couple of containers of water, my paintbrushes on my little table next to my chair.  Grabbed my butcher tray and board and my sketches and went to work.  My first one...
It is a worm.  With hair.  Try to imagine the body just a touch more yellow.  My scanner is not that great and I would have used my camera, however, I learned something important last night.  Actually, I learned several important things about using water colors.  First is, no matter how good the paper you are using, no matter how tightly you tape it down, there is a point where the curl will NOT go away.  Even if you stick it under heavy books all night, it still won't flatten out!  Or maybe it was the paper, I don't know.  We will have to experiment.
Second - no matter how many instructional books you read, you still need to get in there and just DO.
With this picture things were going along quite well until I tried to fix the background and make it look all water color-ey.  Need to work on that just a bit.  Which leads us to the third thing I learned.  There is a point where you just have to walk away.  Unfortunately, you usually don't realize the point you should have walked away until after it is too late.

Again, the body and webs of the frogs feet are supposed to be a creamy yellow.  Not an icky, tea-stain, brown.  However, While it is still a bit rough, the background is pretty good.  Better than the first I am thinking.  
So, why am I showing you these less-than-stellar artworks?  Because I want you to see that it is okay to just play and learn and relax and not worry about perfect.  I have spoken to many people suffering from depression over the past few months and there seems to be a common link.  Perfectionism.  
I am not perfect.  You are not perfect.  We will never be perfect.  Perfect is not possible so stop beating yourself up over it.  Leave it alone and walk away.  
I am going to keep working with the water colors.  I am learning and I will make glorious, fantastic, amazing, frustrating mistakes and that will be fine.  The goal I am setting for is not perfection but to reach a point where I am pleased.  The whole point of making art is to feed your soul.  I highly recommend, whether you are dealing with depression right now or not, to do something creative each day, even if it's just for a few minutes, without expectations of perfectionism but rather to just feel how wonderful it is to create something.

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