I started this year with a new motto. I even put it on our Christmas cards. It rang so true with where I am in my life right now. I have lived in fear my entire life. I fear everything – making mistakes, not doing the right thing, worrying something bad will happen, not being perfect. After my mother-in-law died, I realized I wasn’t really living life. And this was because of my fear of not living it the way I think I should. So everything I have done this year has been an effort to counter that and live my new motto.

I took a fantastic workshop for watercolor and illustration with Kristen Doty this spring. She is a fabulous teacher. However, I haven’t done a whole lot since then in terms of using the skills she taught us. Once this summer in Maine, I tried to sketch some blueberries in our wild patch and also to sketch my uncle’s boat in the bay. I didn’t have the right colors for blueberries and the boat kept changing as the wind was shifting back and forth. I ended up more frustrated than practiced.

Last night I decided to just start again. I found a nice illustration in Botanical Illustration Course by Rosie Martin and Meriel Thurstan. I didn’t have my watercolors out so I decided to just use the colored pencils we had just aquired for “back to school.”

Initially it went great. I was enjoying it, relaxed, and having fun. I was nearly done with the flower and went to draw the leaf. This was the result…

Since I don’t practice much (read “ever”) I didn’t test the pencil before going to town. It doesn’t look as garish on the web but the color was sooo wrong! This is where I have the problem with playing. I don’t like making mistakes. I look at it and think, ‘all that hard work is wasted.’ But I realized I learned two things from this.
First, ALWAYS test your tools on scrap before going to the work! This seems like such a logical idea so why didn’t I think of it before. Second, you have to make mistakes to learn and improve! Wow – what a concept. Making a mistake is so far outside my comfort zone I’ve held back in creating because I didn’t want to fail. Anybody else?
But you can’t have success without failure. You have to be brave and take those chances. I once dreamt of this beautiful piece of artwork. It was a new “style” – one I hadn’t seen anyone else do. In my dream I was so happy because I felt like everything has already been done before and I had created something unique. When I woke up, I tried desparately to grasp at the image in my dream of what I had created and it was gone.
I asked myself, ‘Why can’t I create that in my awake world?!’ Well, how would I ever create something without playing … without taking a risk. I couldn’t. Some people are naturally creative and the ideas and a “style” come naturally to them. I’m not one of them! I have to work at being creative – which sounds like a complete oxymoron but let’s face it – only a tiny select few are born with a natural art talent. So if I never try, if I never just play, and if I never make mistakes, I will never unearth the original creativity which lies within me.
Life isn’t about perfection. You have to love it all. Ahhh… I’m over the green leaf now. I encourage you all, to not worry about making mistakes. Be brave, love life.