Hang In There, My Pretty!

When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on!” ~Author Unknown
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ~Henry Stanley Haskins

My good friend Audrey is an experienced quilter.  She does beautiful work and she completes many complicated projects.  When you see her finished work and her smiling face, you think it must come easy for her.  But you would be wrong.  

She and I have had the same discussion many times.  We have both come to know that creative work cycles through stages.  We agree that one of our most uncomfortable stage is when work that we imagined would beautifully look one way is starting to unfortunately look less appealing. (Plainer stated: like crap.)

I call it the ugly stepchild period.  This is when your creative project has inherited the characteristics  from a gene pool not of your choosing, but definitely of your making.  I just hate it when I am face to face with downright ugly that came from my own hands.

Oh the temptation is great to quit -- or at least whine, curse, complain, or worse; procrastinate.  Some people arrive at this stage and begin listening to their inner critic who is keen to make them do something else less risky or difficult.

I am here to testify that if you hang in there, this too shall pass.  Plodding forward has it’s rewards, not the least is getting out of the quicksand that insists that you will never make good art again, you are a worthless hack and you should trash-can what was once such a good idea.

Happily for me, I am usually not willing to waste art supplies, the great time investment or the energy I’ve spent getting this far to quit now.  Besides, what if I died and all that was left of my art was the stuff I gave up on? What kind of legacy would that be?

Here are a few things to try the next time you find yourself needing to hang on until it gets better:

  • Squint.  Sometimes looking at your art through squinted eyes allows you to see it in a different form, giving you hope that all is not lost.

  • Take a short relaxing break.

  • Ask for help.  YouTube, Pinterest, and Google can help you solve a lot of problems that others have solved before you.

  • Accept where you are in the creative process and know that you will one day be in the place where you are satisfied and content with the project.

Art at its finest is inspired and divine.  Getting it to look that way is, in my opinion, attributed to a keen ability to problem solve and the willingness to sit in the discomfort of being where you are at the time, knowing that eventually you will reach the other side.

When all else fails, take the advice of a good doctor:

“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead and some come from behind.
But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”
~Dr. Seuss


Cheering You Artfully On!