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  • Writer's pictureMia Monroe

The Art of being a perfectionist.

I have been a working artist for as long ago as the 80's, and in that time my style has changed a lot and it will continue to evolve on my journey through life as it should. One thing held me back, that of being a perfectionist. Let me assure you, this is not a good thing in this case!

I have made so many mistakes. The classic one being to create work which you think will sell. This is a mistake made by many artists who hope to live off their talent and I am much the same. It is the dream job isn't it! Art created in that state of mind is never quite there, it definitely has something missing, a spirit or an energy about it which doesn't quite ring true.

We need to make mistakes in life to learn and gain confidence. There are so many good reasons to mess up, but we avoid it. We feel shame and sometimes the fear of failure holds us back from even trying. This is perfectionism. It is a phobia like feeling and really horrible and life-limiting if you let it grab hold of you.

To be an exceptional artist is one thing, but to enjoy making and creating is another. There is a different purpose to self-expression through being creative. The role of creativity is to have a way to make mistakes without it really hurting anyone. I mean, just start again, right. I always start with 'one for the bin'. It is that simple. Yet still we are fearful and anxious around creating. My role as a teacher is always to support overcoming that anxiety, to encourage letting go of perfectionism and the fear of failure.

Years ago I worked in a tight and graphic style. I knew deep down this was not who I was. But one part of me found relief and comfort in the rules I had set myself. This is fine. And this is good. But inside me was the woman who wanted to paint her body and splash huge canvases with paint, or smudge loads of coloured pastels together. This is the joy of creativity. We can do this and it makes fantastic art but above all it makes us feel free, and joy and able to express ourselves. This is the true meaning of expressive art, and for me this is where art has a role to play. To enable us to be free and to be authentic. For however long it takes to do that piece, it is freedom, it is joy, it is happiness.

Learning to be expressive through art is a skill which needs support. (without going all tree-huggy on you) Art is about expression. Listening to that voice and translating it into images or colours is something we can all do, but it does take practice. If you are interested in this, a technique I would start with is to pick or draw a colour for the moment, for the day or for an event. Maybe make a grid in a notebook or add colour to a diary, you can even knit a blanket with different colours for each session. You will soon have a mood map.

Try not to overthink it and just go with your instinct for the colour choice, you will soon get your own colours. There is no reason to choose blue for cold emotions, that might mean something different to you. It is a very personal choice.  

Above all, don't let the worry of being right or wrong, good or bad, or any of those self-limiting words, stop you from starting.

There is no wrong way.

Trust that your way is the right way, every time.

Mia x

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