Paint Like a Toddler

Originally, this post was supposed to be about what I’ve been up to lately and how I feel about it. The truth is, I really don’t want to talk about that stuff. It hasn’t been the greatest week and I don’t feel like ending it with a bunch of whining about past failures and self-doubt. Although, it would be hard for me to the make the point I want to make without mentioning the latter.

I have an unfortunate affliction.

My name is Ruth and I am…a perfectionist. I don’t know when it started – probably when I was fairly young – but it affects everything that I do (Case in point: I just double-checked the dictionary to make sure that ‘affect’ was the proper word to use in that sentence and when I’m through writing this post, I’ll proofread it at least twice to make sure there are no typos.). It affects my art profoundly. I can often be found staring at a piece and picking out every minute imperfection until I just want to throw the whole thing out and start over.

It’s probably a good thing I don’t have as much time on my hands as I used to. My trash bins would be overflowing.

The fact that I know that nothing I ever do will ever be perfect (by my own standards) weighs on me heavily and causes a lot of the aforementioned self-doubt. Is my work good enough? Probably not. Will anyone like it? Eh, maybe, as long as they don’t look too closely and notice that spot where my brush slipped or where the paint backwashed.

(For the record, I just proofread what I’ve written so far for the fourth time).

Right now (and G-d-willing for the rest of his life), my son is the complete opposite of me in this respect. He has become more interested in art projects lately and is slowly developing the patience for sitting down and working on something until it’s done. I’ve been trying to foster an interest in art by finger painting with him and he is taking to it slowly but surely. Like me, he is a bit impatient with the process of creating something and is more excited to see the end result. So, I often find myself gently prodding him to ‘paint some more’ while he tries to convince me that one swipe across the paper is sufficient to complete his masterpieces. When we finally come to the mutual conclusion that a painting is finished. I tape it up to dry.

At this point, he looks at what he has created, points at it with great purpose, and exclaims ‘Oooooo!’ There is nothing he likes to see more than a picture that he has created. Our breakfast nook has become his personal gallery filled with paintings that he has done. Some of the paintings are framed and others are just stuck to the window with tape. During meals, he looks around and marvels at what he has created. Between bites, he will point to one of his paintings and say ‘Oooooo’ – just taking in how special it is and how much he likes the way it looks. He doesn’t pick it apart looking for problem spots or think about how he probably could have made a better color choice or dwell on whether all the elements are the perfect size and shape.

I know that some day he’ll be told to color inside the lines. And he’ll probably take that lesson to heart and start looking at things in a completely different way. But for now, he’s just happy to look at things the way they are – not the way they’re ‘supposed’ to be. I envy him that.

(I lost track of how many times this was proofread. If you find a typo, please don’t tell me. It might kill me).

photo : a painting by Sir taken by yours truly

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