Letting Go of Perfection

I always wanted to be creative but never thought I was. I tried to be creative: I read books about creativity, I did exercises, and I meditated on it. But I always felt like a fraud.

I could play the piano but I needed sheet music. I could play the guitar but I could not write my own music. I could draw pretty well but I had to find the right reference photograph. And the drawing had to be perfect or the whole experience would turn negative.

I also wanted to write. I could write a blog or a journal or a book. Anything really. I wasn’t picky. The point was to try and get something out of me. I wanted to leave a piece of myself on a page or out in the open even. So I would try to write and would do it consistently for months at a time. But it started feeling like work to me. And it never delivered that release that journaling supposedly provides.

I always came back to drawing. And while I wanted to draw, I just couldn’t find my style. So instead, I started buying sketchbooks, pens, pencil crayons, paints, ink, brushes, you name it… anything to distract me from actually doing it. Then I signed up for classes. I went to a local studio. I watched videos online. But again, nothing stuck. And I didn’t actually create anything. I just collected the tools and read about the techniques.

One day in the fall of 2019, I was sitting on my couch, and I felt inspired. I decided to draw my patio furniture, sitting right out in front me. It took me a long time and it was very rough. But I loved drawing it. And I immediately wanted to draw more.

I walked around my house and started sketching random items.

I then found a photo of a living room that seemed easy enough to draw. And I drew that one too. But it was hard. My angles seemed off and I couldn’t understand the perspective.

So in true Ainslie fashion, I Googled perspective and found video after video on YouTube instructing how to draw with perspective (and rulers and measuring). And as I watched the videos , the joy I felt when I was actually drawing those other objects disappeared.

That’s when it hit me that I needed to draw just for fun. I needed to stop caring how it would turn out. It didn’t need to be perfect. It was about the process and not the end result.

I decided simply to try.

I got rid of my pencil because I felt like it was holding me back. I needed to commit. I needed to draw with a pen only.

It’s funny how scary that actually was. It was so final. I made mistakes: Lots of mistakes. But I found that they could become funny little quirks in my drawings. They added character. It’s my hand and it shows me. And that’s what makes it feel personal and unique.

Letting go of my need to be perfect, gave me freedom that I never felt before. And it brought me a tremendous amount of joy. I realized that the absolute worst thing that could happen if I really messed up a drawing was that I would have to start over. I would lose some time. But I would also learn from it.

OK… that’s too much cross-hatching… don’t do that again. YIKES.

Now I have a personal connection with everything I draw. It is a part of me, on the page. And if you don’t like it, it doesn’t really matter. I don’t even like some of the drawings I create.

But they all come from love and a freedom from the constraints that I had always put on myself. They show the world exactly how I see it: It’s a little wonky, there are no straight lines, and sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.

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