You know how I said in a recent post that my first order of business was to tell naysayers, including my own, very powerful Inner Critic to fuck off? And the second was to repeat the first order of business as often as necessary?
Well, this weekend there was an internal skirmish revolving around that very thing.
Recently, I’ve been feeling my creative impulses building, becoming more frequent, and not just in my usual media, either, being writing, and, to a lesser extent, photography. I’ve had the nearly-manic urge to get paint onto canvas, watercolors onto paper, and to draw. The thing is, though, that the last time I created in the vein of visual art with any regularity at all was when I was in high school, and that was, at the latest point, about eight years ago when I started focusing on writing.
Saturday, I went to Wal-Mart for a few things–it’s the only store in this tiny town that has what I was after–and took a detour into the art supplies aisle, where I fought with myself about buying watercolor pencils, acrylic paint, and canvases. Of course, my Inner Critic was in top form.
“You’re not an artist!” it said, “This would only be a waste of money that you need to be saving!”
Since the beginning of university, I’ve gotten easily fed up with visual art when I’ve tried it, for the most part, because I always feel like it never comes out quite right. And why? Because of my Inner Critic, and its incessant comparison, its insistence that I should be able to do much better, and, if not, that I should throw in the towel. Of course, the Inner Critic was also comparing me against some of my friends who are formally-trained, university-educated studio artists, while I lack such formal training. My formal training ended with the beginning of middle school, and the rest came purely from the intuitive urge to create. Plus, those friends have different styles from mine, so, of course, there are going to be differences!
So, Saturday, I left the watercolor pencils, canvases, and paint sets at the store. Inner Critic: 1. Rebekah: 0.
Yesterday, I went back, and did battle with the Inner Critic. I stood there, in that aisle again, picking up and putting down paint sets and canvases, though I steadily held onto the watercolor pencils this time around. I walked around the store in agitation, arguing with myself. I don’t even know how many trips I made back to that aisle and away from it and back again. In the end, I told myself, as I walked to the checkout with the watercolor pencils, that this was a compromise. The Inner Critic was neither wholly satisfied nor wholly defeated. Watercolor pencils are, for me at least, an easier medium to work with, and I am and would be reacquainting myself with visual art. Of course, this means my creative urges didn’t win entirely or lose entirely, either. Score for Rebekah vs. Inner Critic: Tied.
Before I went to bed last night, I wished I’d have gotten the least expensive set of acrylic paints and at least one canvas. I had two paintings in my head for which only acrylics or oils would do, and only canvas. I didn’t quite tell my Inner Critic to fuck off as I’d promised myself I would do, and so vowed that, today, if Wal-Mart was open, I would go get the paint, the cheap palettes, and a 3-pack of canvas panels (cheaper than wooden-framed canvases).
I decided that I am tired of letting the Inner Critic rule my life. I’m tired of being afraid to being imperfect in any of my work or activities. I’m not perfect, not in an objective way. No one is. There’s always someone, somewhere, that will find fault with us and/or our work. And that’s okay! It’s okay if one’s creation is not everyone’s cup of tea! It’s okay if I’m, or you’re, not everyone’s cup of tea! It’s okay if we doubt ourselves but soldier on anyway.
One of the paintings of which visions were dancing in my head as I went to bed had been in there for over a week, during which time I begged it to go bother one of my more talented friends. It resolutely refused. The other cropped up yesterday, and, as I slept, a third one cropped up. In my dreams last night, visions of all three of those paintings were dancing in my head. Obviously, they had decided that I’m the one who is going to paint them.
“What if you screw up the canvases?” asked my Inner Critic, as I drove to the store this morning for supplies.
Yes, this morning was Round 3 with the Inner Critic in the aisle with the art supplies. This time, I did tell my Inner Critic to fuck off. So what if I do screw up? The only way to learn to paint is to paint. I won’t get good at it if I never try, and, what’s more, I’d have that unfulfilled longing hanging around.
I resolutely placed into the shopping cart and bought a 3-pack of the biggest canvas panels they had (15 in. x 20 in.), a set of 12 starter acrylic paints, and a cheap 3-pack of palettes. I also picked up two new, inexpensive nail polishes because I thought they were pretty and I’ve been meaning to actually give myself a full mani-pedi. All the art supplies totalled to less than $20.00, which, in the grand scheme of things, is not very much, and less that $25.00 when I figured in the two nail polishes. Oooo…Huge sum of money! (That is meant sarcastically, just f.y.i.)
Today I’m going to do the practice sketches for the three paintings, a visual form of taking notes. It’s so dark, damp and rainy here today that they wouldn’t have a prayer of drying, and they’re all going to require layers of paint, so that would be a recipe for frustration, as would the darkened cave the house is with no sunlight coming in. I don’t want to become that frustrated, because I might quit and the Inner Critic would win. But the first relatively dry, sunny day, Madam Inner Critic had better watch out! I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to paint these three paintings, even if they don’t turn out exactly as I envision.