I was talking with my treasured friend Libby Heasman of Crimson Pear about how frustrated I was feeling about getting the next stage of a project for my porcelain jewellery designs going because I felt like I just needed a bundle of things in place first. To my immense relief Libby went “I know exactly what you mean!”.
And with that burst of recognition I felt like I wasn’t making excuses, that I was experiencing a normal dilemma and struggle, that it would all be OK, all I needed to do was break down the blockages and move through them.
What a difference it makes being understood.
I was feeling so frustrated and restricted by all that needed to be done, to what felt like stop signs in front of me.
By having the pressure taken off I realised that I’ve gone through this before with another project that was really important to and directly related to my current one – getting my own paintings and drawings onto the porcelain and I hadn’t picked up a paint brush since high school.
To make this happen I had to learn about painting; everything from handling a paint brush, to working with water colour paints and everything in between. I had to figure out design elements for my jewellery and how to get my paintings printed in under glaze.
None of this was easy. The only way this came together over a series of months with regular set backs was by breaking it down into activities. I started with the Make a Mark a Day practice so that I could build up a range of paintings and drawings.
The Artist Journey
Each week I did things to move forward. The research for getting the paintings printed in under glaze took months. It was pure stubborn determination on my part that made that one happen. It was often frustrating, getting straight answers was much harder than necessary and I came to accept that it would eventually turn out to be different to where I started. And it did. It always does when you’re firing ceramics.
The key to it was the constant small efforts. They added up and by September I was taking my first pendants and brooches with my paintings on them to market. I was that excited about it. If I could have done backflips I would have been bouncing down the middle of market!
It only happened because of the regular actions. They often didn’t feel like much. Many of them turned out to crash into deadends, particularly with the under glaze print. Aside from being stubborn about making it come together, the key was in breaking it down into activities. What did I need to do to paint the koalas? What did I want Della the Platypus to look like? What effect did I want with my equally stubborn wombat? What painting skills do I need to develop to do each of these? What effect does paper make to the paintings? It was constant.
I made up a check list so I knew where I was with which character at which stage. I use this sort of list for the three stages of making the porcelain jewellery, particularly when I’m preparing for the Tasmanian Craft Fair with Christmas straight after it. I see this as being organised, and while it is that. it is also about breaking down the big project into little activities. I find it very satisfying marking off each step and moving onto the next.
Realising that I have this near at hand example of getting such a big project done and the satisfaction I’ve experienced with it makes me see that this next challenge is doable. I can make this happen, feeling overwhelmed is just part of it. Feeling frustrated about getting all the ducks in a row so I can progress through all that needs doing is part of it. I’ll just be more successful if I let go of that frustration, write a list and get moving.
Thank goodness I’m not alone in this one!
If you’ve had similar frustrations do please let us know in the comments about your experience.