Pristine, Paralyzing "Perfectness" **UPDATED**

10:39 AM

UPDATED: Last night I was debating on whether to post about this topic. This morning, I was still undecided until I checked my emails and found a comment on yesterday's post from Tyanne of Ty's Quilts about her fears of messing up a new, pristine white journal. 

As soon as I read her comment, I knew I was suppose to post this today. Now Tyanne has posted about how she's kicking fear to the curb and how she's going to use her new journal! You can read about it here.

Do you have a fear to be kicking to the curb?! Please share in the comments!

Oh my.

The white cover waiting for just the right touch.

The first page with nary a mark on it.

The possibilities are endless. The decisions daunting.

Why? Why all the pressure?

Because all of the possibilities—in my mind—are perfect.

IF I dare to put a mark on the page it might not be perfect. Or what I want. Or (gasp!) I might make a mistake! Oh, the horror! The........fear......of ruining a perfectly good journal on the first page or the cover! Of being recognized for the fraud that I know I am deep down inside. I'm NO artist and I won't be fooling anyone if I mess up this cover or the first page!

Do you ever go through anything like this when you're starting a new journal?

I have to say that I was paralyzed for years by white page fear. My excuse was that I just couldn't make up my mind as to what I wanted to put on the cover of that new journal or the first page, but in truth, I was afraid of messing up. Big time. And then everyone would know that I wasn't really an artist but a wannabe.

I will also concede that the fear still grips me from time to time and I have to make a concerted effort to kick it to the curb. I put on my kevlar tutu, fire up my turbo-charged magic wand and POWER THROUGH THE FEAR. Because, really, does everyone really care what the journal cover looks like or the first page?!

In a word, "No."

Below is the first page of the Pineapple Journal, which I showed in this post. I've decided to dedicate this journal to a looser type of sketching.

I've really loosened up on this first page, don'tcha think??


Watercolor on Canson Edition paper
I had just painted the large purple flower when my hubby came into the studio and we began a rather serious discussion. The purple flower was loose and the only thing on the page at that time. When I started paying attention to what I was painting once more, I realized that my usual, tighter style had reasserted itself when my focus turned to the discussion. Oops. Loose? No. Not even close. It's not even a good page design.

As I wondered what to do about this less than auspicious start, it dawned on me (a little late, I know) that in a journal where the pages are SEWN in, they would not/could not be easily removed. Like in a spiral bound journal. Now, I've seldom removed pages from any of my journals, but it was always nice to know that the option was there if I really mucked up a page!  Kinda like an escape hatch.

Reviewing my options, I realized I could a) get out my gesso and paint over the page or parts of it; b) add a few papers for collage and disguise the failed attempt; or c) I could just say "Next!" and turn the page and get on with. After all, a valuable lesson was learned....I really need to focus when I'm attempting to learn a new style of painting. So, while I still have my tutu on....


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19 Creative Thought(s)

  1. I think it's a great start to a cover. It may not be as loose as you'd like but it's basically good. The only thing I would change is I would add a couple of bright bugs or butterflies to the right side of the page. All the color is to the left. That would balance it. You could possibly write something down that side or collage on a brightly colored title on that side but I think just a couple of bright spots would change your feelings about it.

  2. Nice work. A couple of bees and a butterfly would add more interest. But even if you do not add anything, the art is nice.

  3. It's nice to know that even an accomplished artist as yourself have those "less than perfect" fears...that it's not just me. I am so nervous to TRY watercolor - JUST because it will be "LESS THAN PERFECT". I so love looking at your paintings - they inspire me to TRY!

  4. Hey - your journal is supposed to be a place where you test and play and experiment - it ISN'T a formal painting! Remember our first lesson in our foundations class? But anyway, I like your page. I like the bright colorful flowers and my favorites are the yellow one and the red-orange one. It's a fun page.

  5. And if you have a tighter style, what's wrong with that anyway? Embrace it! (Isn't that what you would tell us in class?) :)

  6. Thanks, TImaree! I think you're right a bug or a bee or butterfly would help!

    Thank you, Terry! Looks like a bug is in order!

    Digital-Grace, wanna borrow my tutu?! Seriously....fear is overrated. It stills time and energy from you. Kick it to the curb!

    Oh, Cheryl! Busted! Thanks for reminding me about my journal's purpose of play and NOT perfection. As to the style thing, I accept and embrace my style very much. At least most of the time I do!

    I've challenged myself to learn to be freer with my sketches and so begins the learning. It won't be easy but I do believe it will be worth it! Thanks again for keeping me on my toes!

  7. Interesting blog post.
    I don't think of myself as an artist so for me it is not a fear that "oh they won't think I'm an artist. I actually don't show my journals to anyone except my husband and my online friends (no face to face reaction there.If someone doesn't like my work, I don't have to know-- Oops bad inner critic stuff I know) I am working up to that now as I have a coworker who has expressed some interest in the travel journal I am working on. I plan to do a few more pages, then actually show it to her-- Wow progress.

    My solution to the fear of that first pristine page is to always leave the first page blank, and then I can get to work in a journal. Sometimes I go back and work on that page and sometimes I don't. Recently I have been working on individual pages, the problem with that is that I don't seem to go the final step to bind them, so custom made journals (made by someone else) seemed the way to go. So I found someone on etsy who does wonderful work and ordered a journal in my preferred size and favorite paper and when it arrived it had this pristine white cover that could be decorated by me. And I am afraid to use this journal... not because I might mess up the cover and be unpleased with it (although that could certainly happen) but because I am a very very messy painter, and my work surface which is a wipe clean placemat on my dining room table always ends up covered with paint, making me worry that I am going to ruin the cover with that paint. Moleskines have black boring covers that I can't ruin, and I am learning to tape off the back side of my individual pages, but I don't know how to protect that pristine white cover.

    Sorry about the long comment, this has been kind of stream of consciousness, but I am thinking that I am going to get that journal out and use it for the autumn class-- so does anyone have any suggestions on how I can protect the cover until I am ready to decorate it?

  8. Progress is a beautiful thing!! Bravo, Tyanne! What about a paper book cover like we used to do to our text books in school?

  9. OH MY.. This hit home. I am so what you said. afraid someone will find out what a fraud I really am. lol Everytime I start a painting that white canvas smirks at me. A nice sketch book..FORGET IT. So its nice to know that you do it too. As for the first page painting....Which I think is totally lovely.... I would leave it and keep going so that by the end of the book you will have something to show on how far you have come in your journey to loosen up. Fabulous post..Thanks. I need to go do some curb kicking. :)

  10. I like both composition and color in this --- sort of fits the colorful cover and your resolve to paint in a looser style. The flowers seem to be dancing to music we can't hear.
    Definitely keep this page as is --- then compare it to how much you grow into your goal by the end of the book.

  11. Cris, get busy kickin'! Just let me know if you want to borrow the tutu!!

    Vicky, that's an excellent idea—thank you!

  12. I would hate to think I have to tear out a failed attempt. After all I do want some pages in my journals. Ha... Really, I rarely take one out. When you flip through my journals you just have to wince ever so often. A really odd thing I do is leave a few pages at the end of every journal. I don't know why. Sometimes I think I might tear them out and use them but I have tried that and I end up not using them so I just leave the empty pages in the journal. I say to myself "Someday"... Of course someday has never evolved but I have learned to just ignore those last few empty pages. Sometimes there are just one or two pages more often times there are more. I can't figure out why I do that.

  13. Perhaps you don't want the "party" to end, Lisa, so you leave a few pages!

  14. I like your page. I joined the 'Sketchbook Project' & was worried about the first page so I started towards the middle. But I could still make a mess of the first page when I eventually use it anyway!
    Tyanne could use cling film around the cover to keep it clean for the time being.

  15. I'm with Tyanne. I always start somewhere other than the first page. And I normally do the cover last or at some point while working in the journal when the perfect idea hits me. I try really hard to remind myself that it is MY journal, I don't have to show it to anyone so why worry about a page. Plus can always add another layer and cover up what you don't like. There are no rules in MY journal.
    Funny story on first page. I asked my niece, when she was about 6 if she wanted to make a page in my book. She said yeah, then opened it and said that the first page was blank. I explained I never start there. She asked if she could do that page. When I said yes she was so tickled! She'd tell everyone that would listen that she got to do the FIRST page! I love the freedom of children and their thought process. It's a really good practice to do art with a kid. They'll remind you to loosen up!

  16. There is another phobia closely related to 'White Page Fear.' I'm suffering from 'Pristine Moleskine Phobia.' I first learned about Moleskines about 8 months ago ... they sound so wonderful, something the masters used. I see light filtering through tall windows in ancient stone buildings and an artist filling one after another.

    I actually got to a big enough art store to fine some about 6 months ago and bought a packet of three with a lovely tan cover aching for inspiration. Months have gone by. Why am I intimidated by the little treasure? Shall I use one for dragonfly notes, one for flower notes? Or maybe little sketches of the house I grew up in, or favorite spots in Yellowstone, or? or?

    I finally made it back to the same store and bought three more ... maybe they wouldn't seem so precious then. So now I have 6 little books hanging under the dark cloud of Pristine Moleskine Phoebia!

    Oh my gosh! Do I need to buy three more to get started?

  17. Lin, would love to know more about that cling film?! Where do you purchase that? Off to google that!

    How brilliant! Thanks for sharing, Kimber! Isn't it amazing how our perspectives changes from "Yeah, I'm first!" to "I don't wanna go first" as we age? Thanks for the reminder!

    Well, Elva, you're not alone in this phobia of Moleskines! My first one sat on the shelf for months. So I bought a different size. Two kept each other company on the shelf for a looooooong while. I finally reasoned that since I had two, I would use one to "explore and test" the paper in and the other would be my "real" journal. Ha!

    I hate to tell you this, but it turned out that I really didn't like the paper in that Moleskine and I had been harboring all that anxiety over a……dud!

    Now you may love the paper, but I do recommend that you test one out and then decide if the anxiety is worth it. After all, you'll still have 5 on the shelf!

    Besides, today is an AWESOME day to KICK fear to the curb! You can do it!

  18. "Next"! is a great strategy... one of my very favorites!

  19. I'm glad you said "next" and kept it because the orange marigold is just beautiful. It made me happy to look at it. The rest is beautiful too. No matter what your intention was at the onset of the painting, you can look back and see the moment in time you shifted...and learn.


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