This week I have been struggling to make progress on two paintings which are larger than my usual workings and I have realised that this is mostly due to the fact that I have convinced myself that I can only work on them if I have a large chunk of time set aside. Of course when I think about it I know that’s not the case, but every now and then I need to remind myself that regular little steps get me further than occasional days of manic activity.
A small daily task, if it really be daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules
So I’m learning again the value of consistency, particularly when working towards larger goals. It’s easy to lose motivation when it feels like little or no progress is being made, especially in our immediate results/gratification driven culture. But when I’m honest with myself I will admit that anything worth having or achieving will take time and effort.
Perhaps it’s my inner perfectionist that is hardest to overcome. I so easily forget the value of the process with all of its lesson-building mistakes and the joy of unplanned discoveries and instead get overwhelmed with how things should turn out. Goals are good and healthy but often the pursuit of the ideal can disable us into doing nothing in the here and now.
Little by little, one travels far
J. R. R. Tolkien
And so I’m trying to let go of the need to be perfect, now or ever. To enjoy making progress, however small, step by step and realising that over time much more has been achieved than when I have tried to do it all at once. Life is not about getting results and ticking goals off a list. Rather it is about living here and now, imperfectly but fully engaged in the journey.
So even though things have been busy this week in my little home at the edge of the woods, I’m now going to get my brushes and paints out and enjoy whatever small progress can be made today.
A note about the artwork:
The artwork on this post is a postcard sized (7″ x 5″) acrylic and watercolour creation of a black cat that I have titled ‘Patience’. The cat is a creature that embodies an active patience for me…a particular combination of internal stillness and external awareness that is both fascinating and inspiring. I am especially fond of black cats who are unfortunate benefactors of historic superstitions – they are statistically the most likely to be found in shelters and the least likely to be adopted. A strange and deeply saddening form of creaturely racism…