Monday, March 26, 2012

Process vs. Mistakes

"Learn from your Mistakes." We've been told this over and over throughout our lives. I've probably said it myself, thinking it good advice.

And while it is true, it doesn't really help.

When I think about the mistakes that I've made in my life, my face starts to burn, my breath comes shallow, and I push those thoughts aside. Mistakes are for moving on from, forgetting, leaving them behind. 

Mistakes are for erasing.

In the continuing saga of my life drawing class, I have been horrified by my mistakes. I've wanted to hide them, they make me nervous, my face starts to burn . . . . And that of course makes it impossible for me to learn from them.

But a couple weeks ago I remembered - I love process. I seem to love the doing more than the final product. So why haven't I been able to enjoy the process of learning to draw the figure?

I love being in the classroom; I love the luxury of three uninterrupted hours of drawing; I love sitting on those uncomfortable drawing horses; I love moving my hand and arm around in front of a big piece of paper; I love glancing back and forth between model and drawing, model and drawing. So why was I feeling so frustrated and defeated?

And then I had it: Substitute the word process for the word mistakes.

"Learn from your Mistakes the Process!" 

And you know what? Last week, finally, after 6 weeks of classes, I started getting it. I started relaxing, and making steps towards some work I could be proud of.

I no longer feel like I'm making horrible mistakes. Instead, I can look at what I've done, even my most alarmingly awkward figure drawings, and be happy because I am learning from the process.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Pocket Full of Snails

Today Donkey and I went for a walk in the amazing Debs Park. It is one of our best kept secrets here in northeast Los Angeles.  I've been there many times, even had a family birthday party there last year, but each time I go, I wander a little farther and am always thrilled by what I find. It's my new favorite place.

At the park, walk up the road to the pond (or follow one of the many paths through the trees). Stand in the shade and check out the view. This is as far as most venture. But keep on going. The paved road is mostly shaded and follows the crest of the hills northward soon leaving the graffiti behind while many small hiking trails wind their way among the hills giving spectacular views of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Arroyo Seco, and downtown Los Angeles.

Benches are found in unexpected and strategic places and there is even a well maintained picnic area far back in the park.

After another fabulous walk today, we left the park and I desperately needed something cold to drink. I found a little burger joint and went in to get a soda. Donkey waited outside. I hurriedly reached into my pocket for some crumpled dollar bills. And I laughed at myself, feeling like a little kid just coming in from playing all day on the hillside.

You can see a finished snail in my shop

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How to Stop the Circle of Doubt

I came home from my life drawing class last night frustrated and defeated. So defeated that I wanted to throw up my hands and give up on all my current creative pursuits. Felt like such a poser. "Whoever said I was good at this? Not me!"

Pulling myself together enough this morning to sit at my work table and make something, I sorted through the bits and pieces and came across this:
Donkey is the name of my Golden Retriever

I don't know how much it really helped, but it certainly gave me a moment to get out of my head and stop the endless circle of doubt. (Donkey is the name of my Golden Retriever, I talk about him here.)

And then in floated my teacher's words from the first day of class: "Most of you will want to quit around the middle of the semester, some of you will disappear." Guess what? Next week is the middle of the semester. Maybe I'm not so terrible. Maybe, in fact, I'm right on track.

I think I might make myself a name tag with this "My Donkey is _____" scrap of paper. Then, next week when I'm frustrated again (and I know I will be), I'm going to pause, read my name tag, stop the circle of doubt, and get on with it!