Thursday, September 17, 2009

Art and Fear - Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism and Paralysis to become more Productive

I have been thinking a lot about this subject because unless I have a deadline, nothing I do is ever finished.

Why? Because I always think I will be able to improve it some day. So the paintings that have not left my studio remain unsigned, unvarnished and unframed.

What leads us to delay completion? I am no psychologist (unless you accept my armchair degree in self-help reading) but I have come to the conclusion that I believe I can improve on my mostly completed paintings, but I am also afraid to completely mess them up - and believe me that has happened more than once!

So I procrastinate - I start a new painting, take another workshop, read a book, cook something, make a phone call, travel somewhere, go shopping or any other activity, rather than knuckling down and addressing whatever it is I think needs to be changed and tackling it with courage and skill.

I think that is why I like the start of a work - it is easy to be completely free and change things with abandon. Nothing is precious. Right eye 1/8 of an inch too high - paint it out and start over! Don't like the color of the background - change it!

I have a full library of books on the subject, so I know I am not alone in this kind of avoidance behavior. Julia Cameron has written a very funny cartoon book entitled, How to Avoid Making Art, and exposes some of the silly ideas we use as excuses for not working when we ought to be working.

Right now I have two portrait studies that need a few slight tweaks and have been patiently waiting for my attention for months. So here I am, writing a post and drinking coffee instead and dreaming of my next painting.

Today I am going to head down to my studio and finish something. Nike has it right - let's all just do it!