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Fear: An integral component of my creative process

I spent some time yesterday working on a list of ideas for blog posts. I outlined a blog post and began to flesh it out, with the intention of polishing it and then posting it today, but that’s not going to happen, not today anyway.

Yesterday evening, I began the painting stage for one of my dolls. Well, they aren’t really ‘dolls’ in the traditional sense anymore. Yes, they can be ‘played with’, but they have morphed into something else, more sculptural, more abstract…I’m still trying to figure it out for myself at this point. I still personally call them dolls though. The painting stage for my most recent collection of dolls is started after the gesso and sanding is completed. I had decided some time ago, that I wanted to explore using painted paper, and then adhering it to the surfaces of the doll. I wasn’t sure if this was going to be more Eric Carle or more hanging wallpaper.

I’m not sure how I actually pictured the paper looking, but this was not it.

I was confident in my ability to create the painted paper. I was drawing on an art lesson taught to me by a fellow art teacher while I was working within a larger public schools art program. In a nutshell, you use acrylic paint and paint it onto newsprint. It creates lovely paper that can be cut or torn and used for collage work. I decided to use pages from a book. I used glue stick to attach several pages together, creating a large sheet (35  x25 cm, give or take) that I could paint on. Much like the art lesson, I stuck to colour groupings like tints, shades, warm, cool and analogous. I chose blues for the background (base) layer of colour, and then will create collage work over the top of it. I can work back into the painted paper with coloured pencil and with additional paint. When completed, I will cover it with a semi-gloss sealant. That’s the plan.

While working last night, I began thinking, “Oh man. I’ve got a bad feeling about this…” after I glued down the first, and essentially easiest part of the paper to the main doll torso back. It thought it looked horrible. The book paper was getting soft and mushy. I had to be so careful as I attempted to burnish or even press the painted paper down to the relatively flat surface. I chose to use a straight-up PVA glue for adhering the paper to the gessoed surface of the doll, because I had used the exact same glue to make the gesso. Somehow I thought that they would adhere to one another better.

I’m kind of feeling ‘meh’ about how this looks. I keep reminding myself that this is the background for a collage and that there is more to be added to it.

I struggled to get the paper to do what I wanted it to do. By the time I was beginning the wheel-houses for the hip joints, I was so frustrated, I thought about peeling off all the paper and sanding it smooth, and starting over with paint just painted on the gessoed surface. I thought about letting it dry and then sanding off the painted paper. I thought that I could just create a whole new abdominal section for the doll. I was really pissed at myself. I should have known that the book pages were too thick and spongy to work with, especially with paint and glue. The paper seams show; great big, stark white lines running through the paper where I cut it. The curved wheel-houses looked like…merde.

Was I drinking last night? Did I suddenly forget how to use glue and paper? The wrinkles! Oh, dear, sweet, merciful gods!

I wasn’t just soaking in fear, I was drowning in it.

Wow. You can hardly tell I just took a two day photography seminar. This looks like I had my eyes closed when I was gluing and cutting the paper and taking the photo.
Evidently, I forgot how to use scissors and X-Acto’s correctly last night. I’m sure a little paint will fix this right up!

I went to bed thinking that I had just totally screwed-up several weeks worth of work and that I’d just have to chuck this piece in the bin and start over again with a completely new doll.

I actually found myself thinking, “What will people think of this totally bunged-up piece of crap that I have created?” It was at that point I had to stop and take a critical look at my thought process as well as the now dried artwork sitting on my desk, because fear was getting the better part of all of my attention, and it didn’t deserve it.

Okay, let’s look at the physical process of creating the paper and then adhering it to the surface of the doll. Yep. It looks a bit chunky and busted, however, it didn’t dry as wibbly as I had feared. Those white edges! GAH! They are mocking me! Mocking. Me. Well…I do have more paint…and coloured pencils…so I thinking I can at least minimize their appearance. The wheel-houses…oh man…they are just crunchy…sloppy…the curves look like…MERDE! GAH! Can some paint help? Yes. Maybe some careful sanding? Perhaps. Okay, let’s look at the helmet portion that I also got paper glued to. It’s…okay…better than the torso section, but there are some seriously boogered sections where I had to attempt some surgery with an X-Acto knife and it looks like crud. The paper rumpled. Can paint minimize it? I think so.

Will these solutions all work? Maybe? I’m sure that some will work better than others and that while I’m attempting to fix all of the things that I view as problems or mistakes, I will add to my personal creative efficacy in the process.

Fear is weird. It can propel you in a myriad of directions, sometimes all at once. You can stop completely. You can plow through it. You can get stuck in it. You can cut loose things that aren’t working, and move on without them. Or, you can spend inordinate amounts of time trying to make something work that will never work. I suppose that the most important take aways fear as a lesson can teach me, is I need to adequately process it and most important, learn from it. Fear of making mistakes, of screwing things up shouldn’t be a reason for never making an attempt in the first place. This has been a very hard lesson for me to learn, and not just when it’s attached to my own artistic creation. I don’t think fear should ever necessarily disappear completely either. At this point in my life, I think I’m just going to have to look at it the same way I do my clinical depression; fear is something that is always going to be there, something that I will have to do battle with, in varying degrees, and in multiple places, for the rest of my life. That’s just life.

Now, back to work.