Not perfect

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Last week I didn’t post because I finally remembered it was Friday…on Saturday.

So, yes, I’d say I was a little jet-lagged thanks to a long flight delay and then landing back in SF in the wee hours of the morning.

I was also a little nervous about getting back in the studio; not about the work, but because time away gives such a fresh perspective and I wasn’t sure I would still be excited about my current pieces.

But thankfully, I found I was. I was also happily surprised to realize anew how many of the canvas pieces were done before I left.

So besides being a bit bleary, it felt good to jump right in and glue this last larger piece. That girl looks about like I felt.

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Then I tackled the last four small pieces and made some minor adjustments, like this one.

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I moved the main character up a bit, which gave it more energy.

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This one is not glued yet because it’s a little nutty (in my opinion – what is that boy doing?) and I want to be sure before making it final.

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Finally, there is this one, which wins the making me craaaazy award for the week. I really like the woman in the bottom right, I feel like I know her, but I can’t figure out who goes in the background. I’ve tried a million permutations and finally left this on there and gave up for now.

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A wonderful part of being this far along in the series is being completely confident that I will find the solution and knowing it will be worthwhile. Instead of having to wrestle with thoughts about maybe this whole idea being nuts, insert self-hatred here, blah, blah, all I am wrestling with is which person to use.

I alternated working on those last canvas guys and the panels, tackling the ones whose “scene” is not fully there.

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That means doing things like trying this.

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And then this.

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And then this.

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You get the idea.

I really liked all the characters, so it was just a matter of getting them on there in a way that works, so they wouldn’t get in each other’s way. The girl was so strong, she would often distract from the larger man. Finally, I tried this and left it, but I’m telling you, looking at the images now, I like each one for a different reason so who knows? It will come clear eventually.

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Once I was completely sick of all these small moves, switching people around, I set to varnishing batches of the panels. Here’s a batch drying.

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I was very careful to dust them off with a big fluffy brush, but once the varnish was on, I still found a couple of areas with a little fuzz. I did my best to get it all off, and then figured oh, well, no one will notice whatever tiny bit might be left here or there.

This whole varnish and tiny fuzz-picking process (as well as finishing so many pieces) reminded me of this thing I read in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, which was one of the many books I read while on vacation. It’s her book about “creative living without fear,” and while discussing perfectionism, she says:

The most evil trick about perfectionism, though, is that it disguises itself as a virtue…people will sometimes advertise their perfectionism as if it’s their greatest selling point…But I see it differently. I think perfectionism is just…fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more then a deep existential angst that says, again and again, “I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.”

Perfectionism is a particularly evil lure for women, who, I believe, hold themselves to an even higher standard of performance than do men. There are many reasons why women’s voices and visions are not more widely represented today in creative fields. Some of that exclusion is due to regular old misogyny, but it’s also true that – all too often – women are the ones holding themselves back…

I completely agree with her, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone be quite so plain-spoken about this issue.

I myself am definitely stubborn and will work very hard, sometimes late at night, to get my work right, but I am grateful that at this point I also recognize when it’s time to just let it go and consider it done. It may not be perfect, but it’s my best, and that’s what I’m here to do.

So this week, here’s to not being perfect…and not waiting to be perfect! (Thanks, fuzz.)

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