52-Week Art Journal

Week 2: Let Go of Perfection

Welcome to Week 2 of the 52-Week Art Journal Journey. Thanks for joining me!

If you’re new here, check out Week 1.

All you need for this week’s prompt is your journal, a pen or fine-tip marker, and an object with an interesting but relatively simple shape. You may want colored pencils for a fun optional part 2.

Watch this week’s prompt, or read below the video.

 

Before you get started with this week’s small art and journaling, take a moment to relax and refocus.

Prepare your space. Sit down. Breathe… Relax any tension in your body… Breathe

Breathe…

Ready? Let’s get started…

This week is about letting go of perfection. Letting to of the need to have our art live up to some arbitrary standard. Our goal isn’t perfect art, but worthwhile art-making.

I went back and forth, and back and forth… and back and forth about what project to do this week to encourage us to let go of perfection. Although some of my local-library art journaling friends along for this journey may not be excited to hear it, I’ve decided we’re going to do blind contour drawings.

For two reasons.

Blind contour drawings require us to really look at an object, and the lines, the edges, that define its shape. They’re also near impossible to do “perfectly” so we’re going to use them as a way to let go of perfection in our art journals.

Look at your object. Notice its edges…

That’s the contour part.

And here’s the blind part: We’re going to draw our objects without looking at our paper or pen, only at our object, and without raising our pen from our paper.

You can watch me draw my glass flower that was a gift from my kids when we visited the Corning Museum of Glass.

It can be really difficult to not look down at your paper. And sometimes it’s difficult to not lift your pen from the paper.

The Steps

You’ll need to pick a spot on your object you want to start drawing from, a spot that makes sense as a start and end point for the shape of your object. Be sure to notice any edges within your edges, so to speak, and decide which details you will and won’t include in your drawing.

Position your object in a place that makes it easy to see while keeping your eyes away from your paper.

Pick a spot on your paper that gives you space in every necessary direction for your object.

Place the tip of your pen on that spot.

When you’re ready to begin your drawing, carefully follow the edge of your object with your eyes. And let your eyes lead your hand along your paper.

Remember, it will be impossible to get a perfect rendering of your object.

But it will be interesting.

Just relax, and enjoy letting go of everything else while you focus on the contours of your object and replicating them.

It’s important to take your time. But don’t go so slowly you lose momentum. Once your eyes and pen start moving they shouldn’t stop until you’ve completed your contours.

You can see how I handled a pen malfunction in my video.

Before you go on and read today’s journal prompt, stop and draw your object if you haven’t already….

Is your drawing ready? Let’s write…

The first part of today’s prompt is… Your first reaction to your drawing… Be honest.

Maybe you’re displeased with your result. Maybe you’re a little disappointed with your ability to capture your object as well as you think you should have. Maybe you’re frustrated because the line on your paper doesn’t look like it felt like you were drawing.

Maybe you’re embarrassed. If you are, I remind you of one of the great things about an art journal: You don’t need to show it to anyone.

However you’re feeling about your drawing, write it down…

Have you been honest?

After you’ve written down your initial feelings about your drawing, read them.

I can imagine for many of you, there are some negative thoughts in what you wrote about your poor sketch.

And that’s okay.

Maybe you’re surprised to hear me say it’s okay if you had negative thoughts about that sketch.

Don’t reject those thoughts. Instead, accept them. They’re your early opinion of your sketch.

As I’ve said, all emotions are valid, and they deserve to be acknowledged.

They’re also temporary and change based on circumstances.

I want you to accept your negative feelings about your drawing, but we’re also going to speak some truth to negative feelings you had about it.

Consider the Context

If you were happy with your sketch, you probably judged it based on the context.

You just drew a picture without looking at it! 

If that was uncomfortable for you, it’s all the more reason to feel good about your drawing. Be proud of yourself for choosing to do something that made you feel uncomfortable.

You also did something that’s basically impossible to be technically perfect at.

So, in the next section of your journaling today, write about that perspective of today’s drawing. If you didn’t give yourself much grace in your first judgment of your drawing, give yourself grace now.

If you still don’t like it…

If you’re struggling with kinder words for your drawing, think about how you would encourage a friend who did the same project and had the same results as you…

Speak those accepting affirming words to yourself.

Remember to be Gentle with Yourself & Your Art

As we move forward in our 52-Week Art Journal Journey, remind yourself to be gentle with yourself, with your art. As we go through our year there may be projects you will have to purposely and purposefully give grace. We are imperfect, and our art will be imperfect. But it will always have a purpose.

If you came here expecting to improve your skills as an artist, that may happen. Because practice makes improvement. But the more important work that we do here is in ourselves, not in our journals. Our journals are a tool.

If you came here expecting an art teacher you will be disappointed. We may deal a little with technique, and I have my areas where I have more skill than other areas, but I’m not here to teach you about any particular style or technique.

I’m here to encourage you to use art as a form of creative self-care.

I”m here to encourage you to use art to process your emotions, to learn to use it as a tool to help deal with stress, or depression, or anxiety. And sometimes to just plain enjoy it.

Let Your Art Be as Unique as You Are

I am so glad that we are all different. I’m happy to know that every first page that we personalized last week for this art journal journey is unique. I would love to see yours. Any art you create that you’d like to share you can send to me privately, if you’d like. If you’d like to share on social media don’t forget to tag me, and use #artjournalwithmelinda. If you’re finding value in this, invite people along. If you’d like to receive a little bit of extra encouragement each week, sign up for the newsletter.

I appreciate the opportunity to encourage you to establish your own creative self-care practice. We’re not as healthy when we’re not creating. We’re wired for creativity, created in the image of the Creator.

Give Yourself, and Your Art, Grace

I hope you weren’t too intimidated trying blind contour drawing if you’ve never done it before, and I hope if you have done it before and hated it, you don’t hate me for asking you to do it. I admit I wasn’t always a fan. I hope you have or will take the time to do this week’s piece of small art, and journal about it, first by being honest about what you initially think about it, and then looking at it through a more accurate lens, a lens made clearer with grace.

Have More Fun with this Project

I am so excited that you are on this 52-Week Art Journal Journey with me. If you’d like to have some more fun with this project, feel free to use other objects, or reuse the same, and layer them all over your page.

You can keep your original as a reminder to let go of perfection in your art journal. We’re not aiming for perfect art. We’re aiming to claim our creativity, to live out a necessary aspect of our identity, which is our creativity. We’re aiming to use art to be healthier. Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

You can see my process of original drawing, a layered image, and another layered image I added color to with colored pencil in my video. The images are also below.

Blind contour drawing teaches us to look closely at an object. If improving your art skills is one of your goals this year, that’s a skill you need. We all also need to regularly take the time to slow down and really look at things. We can notice so many interesting things when we take the time to look.

Let Go… and Enjoy Messy Progress

I hope this week’s project has also encouraged you to be willing to just let go when you’re creating art in your journal. Don’t let the product overcome the process. Don’t let what you hope to produce distract you from the process. Because the process is what this art journal is about.

Messy progress is still progress. Messy progress is good progress.

Our art is, and will be, perfectly imperfect.

 

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