Today was VERY frustrating. And I firmly believe that frustration can be one of our most useful tools IF we do the hard work of staring it straight in the eye, taking a possibly VERY deep breath, and then calmly asking it to coffee.
So I did just that. In my frustration I wrote out all the things I hated about what I was doing. Anything that came to my mind.
Then I walked away, calmed down, tried to turn my frustration into action. I divided the list up so that each thing had its own line. I tried to trace the root cause of what was happening.
The end result?
I need to change how I’m approaching my 20for20. I want to keep doing watercolor, but I can tell the speed and changing subjects each day isn't’ great for how I learn.
So I’ll keep the 20 minutes but slow down what I’m expecting of myself in that time. I’ll work to take the time I need to be intentional about what I’m doing at any given step. Build in time to BE intentional.
That means I’ll work through a process. Crop, draw on grid paper, transfer to paper, make a plan, paint. I’ll work through that until I hit 20 minutes and then stop there. Then, the next day I pick up where I left off.
I don’t need to finish anything in 20. The buzzer just lets me know that's where I’m finishing for the day. That feels much more right for how I learn.
If you want to see the brain[electrical]storm here's how it went:
First, what are you proud of?I sat down after today’s 20 minute session and first, told myself what I was proud of:
- I have a great system for where I keep my materials. I’m truly doing this whole thing in 20 minutes (minute putting the image in my grid maker) and I’m proud of solving some of those material systems issues.
- I’m proud of myself for showing up for days to something that is legitimately hard and tiring.
- I am still really thrilled every time watercolor does something sort of unpredictable and magical. The possibility for edges is just so cool. (once I understand anything about how to do edges in watercolor.)
So with those acknowledged, now it’s time to work into the frustrations. I just let it all out:
I’m frustrated that things don’t feel like they fit. I’m not sure of my order of operations. I’m frustrated by the pencil lines. I don’t like the mechanical nature of the edges. I want them to flow into the background or be soft. I hate that there’s clearly some level of patience in this that I don’t have. I hate that I’m racing against a clock. I hate that I’m not sure what to do in any given area. I hate that I don’t feel like I can mix enough paint with my little kit and that the colors are always weak. I hate that I don’t know what to do. I hate that I feel like there is more possible but I don't know how to access it. I hate that I have to do this all again tomorrow and feel like I’m starting from scratch. I hate that I’m rushing between the things that I know are important like the drawing. I KNOW the drawing is important. I hate that there isn’t time o really look at it and be thoughtful about it. i hate that I feel like there’s a way to do this better but I’m not doing it. I hate how clunky it feels Painting normally just FEELS BETTER.
That feels complete.
Third, individual lists
I divided the list up to look at things one at a time.
I’m frustrated that things don’t feel like they fit.
This is a technique/style thing. I’m trying multiple styles within one painting. Is there a way where (if time) I could try one painting a few different times each with a really clear intention. Like with the roses: The first time I’m trying it with all hard edges where I wait for everything to dry in between.
Second time I try it all with soft edges wet into wet style.
For each, how do I need to prepare my materials so that they are ready. What do I need to watch out for?
I’m not sure of my order of operations.
This probably goes with the earlier one. But also, I haven’t verbalize it. Maybe if I force myself to sit down and verbalize it, I’ll have better luck. Step 1: draw drawing on grid, Step 2: Transfer drawing with transfer paper. Step 3, lay in my lightest lights (but how?), etc etc where in here do I wait?
Maybe my 20 minutes is getting the drawing down and writing out how I’ll approach the painting. And then the next day is doing the painting.
I’m frustrated by the pencil lines.
Yep. you don’t love these and they are price of learning admission. Give yourself permission to accept them for now. Get a kneaded eraser. Use the good suggestions from the community.
I don’t like the mechanical nature of the edges. I want them to flow into the background or be soft.
That’s great knowledge! That’s a hint on style and that leads you towards a technique (wet into wet). Pay attention to these but also give yourself patience and permission to be a learner. It’ll probably be a little time before you have this much dexterity in intentions matching reality, but that’s OK, Keep working and you’ll get there.
I hate that there’s clearly some level of patience in this that I don’t have.
But maybe this isn’t your fault. Maybe it’s the thing you're asking of yourself’s fault. You don’t like being rushed. Feeling rushed isn’t a great way to learn. You would feel more patience if you felt you had the TIME to BE patient.
I hate that I’m racing against a clock.
You really do. Let’s change that so you don’t feel it as much.
I hate that I’m not sure what to do in any given area.
This goes back to intention but also patience. You don’t have instincts on how to approach things and of course you don’t. You’re new to this. So try being really intentional in an area. Practice the tools (techniques) to work that way and then learn what you like and don’t like about how that looks.
I hate that I don’t feel like I can mix enough paint with my little kit and that the colors are always weak.
You might benefit from changing how you approach your materials. It’s probably ok now for ease but let’s keep an eye on that.
I hate that I don’t know what to do. I hate that I feel like there is more possible but I don’t know how to access it. I hate that I have to do this all again tomorrow and feel like I’m starting from scratch.
Yep! Learning is hard! Keep at it, be intentional, learn from the distance between the shot and the aim and you’ll get there.
I hate that I’m rushing between the things that I know are important like the drawing. I KNOW the drawing is important. I hate that there isn’t time o really look at it and be thoughtful about it. i hate that I feel like there’s a way to do this better but I’m not doing it.
Confirmed! Let’s change how we approach this so it all feels better.
I hate how clunky it feels. Painting normally just FEELS BETTER.
Now with all of this, I made the plan I shared at the top.
I'll use this brainstorm again in the future.
The key is that I'm giving myself space to feel the frustration and a little hate but then I'm separating myself from it, getting curious, and then first sorting it and mining it for useful information.
Because sometimes the answer is, "Yep, you've got to be patient." And sometimes the answer is, "Hey, change how you're approaching this."