Recovering from perfectionism

Hi there. Thanks for stopping by! This blog is a place for me to explain some of the process and meaning behind my paintings, and share some artistic experiments that haven’t made their way onto canvases yet. Here you’ll find the story of my ongoing journey in self-care & self-expression, as I work to manage my anxiety and bring more joy into the world through art.

What Serves You, 12x12 acrylic on canvas - 2019

What Serves You, 12x12 acrylic on canvas - 2019

While I’ve always loved art & color (my favorite color: ALL the colors. organized in rainbow order. obviously) and making things with my hands, for a long time I let my frustration and perfectionism get in the way of producing any creative work. I could never get the painting / drawing / collage / project to look like the vision I had in my head. I would give up part way through a new project because it was harder to execute than I’d envisioned. Ironically, while making things with my hands (especially colorful happy things) has always helped lift my depression and reduce my anxiety, I regularly let anxiety & perfectionism keep me from making anything because I find it too overwhelming or exhausting to get started.

 

Enter art journaling. Largely inspired by Dina Wakley’s book Art Journal Freedom, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s online courses at Balzer Designs, I started art journaling in 2015….

  • Art that lived in a book, not on a wall or an easel? … 

  • A way to express emotions and process feelings with colors and images alongside words? … 

  • A book with so many pages that the “stakes” for any one page were so low I could just paint swatches of new paints or experiment with techniques? … 

… SOLD.

 

And page by page, mark by mark, I began to shed the perfectionism and anxiety that had held me back from fully embracing creative expression. No joke, one of my earliest art journal pages was “You don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful”. 

artjournalintro.jpg
 

I eventually grew brave enough to venture out of the “safe” confines of a book I could close up and keep secret, to expressing myself on big, bright, colorful canvases through abstract acrylic painting: 

The Blues, 24x36 acrylic on canvas, 2018

The Blues, 24x36 acrylic on canvas, 2018

I’ve been learning more and more to let go of expectations and end results and enjoy the process along the way. I find myself appreciating the beauty in tiny marks, tiny moments – the potential for these pieces to contribute to the overall whole, without any one needing to be “just right” or “finish things off” perfectly. Sometimes I like an inky background so much I just stop there!

no words journal page.JPG

On this site you can find a portfolio of my abstract paintings, buy current works for sale, and learn more about the meaning behind individual paintings and about my creative process overall. I hope to use this blog in particular to share some of my sketchbook explorations in abstract, intuitive, expressive art across a wide range of mediums: paper, paint, ink, collage, you name it…  Often these early experiments percolate for months and become the inspiration for large-scale canvas paintings later on - - or can be the basis for commissioned paintings if you see something that peaks your interest!

As I experiment with new materials and techniques I’m learning that a “creativity growth mindset” really can be developed with effort and openness. Along the way I’ve experienced a profound shift from self-doubt to self-care to self-healing. And this is only the beginning! So maybe along the way I can help some other perfectionists out there let go, loosen up, and enjoy this creative life.