Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays

No long and winded blog post for you to endure and have to fidget through. I just want to wish you  "Happy Holidays"! May it be a season of sharing happiness and love to the people in your life. 

Since the Mayan shindig was a bust, I will see you in 2013! Thanks for reading this past year.

Russ and Otis

PS Light a special candle on the holiday you celebrate for those who we lost this year, especially this past Friday. Hug those special people in your life real tight.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Over-Thinking-Self-Doubt-Attaining-Perfection Syndrome

"The art trade brings with it certain prejudices ... particularly ideas that painting is a gift -— well yes, a gift, but not as they make it appear; one must reach out and take it (and that taking is a difficult thing), not wait until it manifests itself of its own accord. ... one learns by doing. One becomes a painter by painting. If one wants to become a painter, if one has passion, if one feels what you feel, then one can do it, but this can go hand in hand with difficulty, worries, disappointments, times of melancholy, of powerlessness and all that." ~ Vincent Van Gogh

For this post, there will be no photos, sketches, or any support images. Only a chat about why we, as artist and people in general, seek validation from our peers and question our abilities. Before we go further, I am not writing this for a pat on the back or some accolades, just to get this weight off of my shoulders. What started this self doubt, is that I have been experimenting with my style and learning new techniques, trying to improve but questioning my abilities along the way. One would think that after being an illustrator for such a long time, those thoughts would never creep into one's brain. But they do. I think why this happens is that we are striving for a perfection that we may never achieve. No matter how many times people tell us otherwise, we see the imperfections in our work. After a while, those thoughts add up and self doubt rears its questioning head. "Am I good enough? Will anyone want me to work on their book or projects? If so, why? Will my peers like the artwork?" The over thinking begins to fester and grow.

One reason why this may happen is that we can look too much at the work and accomplished of others, especially those we admire. Yes, we should look around and absorb the creations by other artists but too much of a good thing can be damaging. We all have said, "I wish I could (insert one or more of the following: paint, draw, write, photograph, etc.) like (fill in the blank)." The thing is we will never be able to create like those people. We don't think, hold a pencil or brush, mix a color, etc. like that person or persons. We can loose ourselves by thinking like that instead of seeing what we do and how we create. Each of us are special and offer our own voice.

Trying to be perfect can hinder the message, especially in picture books. It is not about the technique but the character(s) and story but about getting that emotion across. Our very own perfection will come out naturally. This was a hard one for me to ingest. I wanted every line, stroke, color choice, background element, etc. perfect, loosing the message and the characters personality but just as importantly, the fun of what I do.

What snapped me out of this funk, I was having a conversation with a dear friend and fellow artist who told me to look at what I have done just this year. Several new book projects, some awards, a gallery show, a piece shown at the R. Michelson Galleries, and a my first picture book dummy ready for submission. I am not one to look back, always forward, but having done so, I missed enjoying those accomplishments. She also told me to stop fidgeting with my artwork, let it alone, it is good enough, instead concentrate on my writing. She sees stories in my doodles, sketches, etc. that need to be developed and brought to life. My wife has been saying this for years but sometimes you need that smack down from a fellow artist for it to sink in. Thanks Kelly and Lynn, I now get it.

With a bit of reflection, and new found energy, I am thrown aside this "over-thinking-self-doubt-attaining-perfection syndrome." Story ideas have begun to flood my head and it is time to get them down onto paper. As much as I want to, I have not gone back and proofread this post so it stands as is with any grammar, puncheon, and typos. I must be on my way to a full recovery.

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