Train Your Brain (Moving Through Perfectionism To Create) Episode 4: The Space To Create

by Michelle M. Johnson

Folks have been after me for a while to share a studio tour of my creative space...which wasn't my favorite idea for a slew of reasons:

1. I am still learning to be comfortable as the center of a camera's focus (even if I am the photographer/videographer), so I knew making such a video would be an anxiety trigger.

2. The art studio tours I've seen just feel so...show-off-y and "Oooh, look at my pretty, tidy, insta-worthy space, and supplies, oh, yeah, and all my super cool gadgets for organization - don't you wanna be me?!" I didn't want any part of that.


3. My studio space is pretty small (but, I feel oh-so-grateful for an actual "room to call my own"), so what on Earth could I talk about?!


But, then it dawned on me - showing my work space in all of its raw, unguarded plainness, giving a truly authentic tour of my studio as it is right here & right now, *might* help other folks feel good about themselves and where they are currently in their creative lives (and helping folks see the best in themselves is mos def my prime directive in life).

My life and my studio are a wreck right now, in fact, I am coming to realize that they are *always* a blustery mess in January.



My studio, my face - this is what we look like in January.

And, that's okay.


My creative impulses and the art I make with them do NOT come from my space.


And, neither do anyone else's.


I've lost track of how many times I've heard, "Oh, I would love to be more creative, but I just don't have the space!"


And, when I hear excuses like that (yes, they are excuses - let's call a spade what it truly is), my spidey senses start to tingle, letting me know that I am in the presence of a die-hard perfectionist...who is afraid to start making and creating.


And, I get it - wishing to be more creative is easy and entirely risk free! Who's gonna judge you harshly for wanting to be more creative?


Actually getting down to the business of making paper messy, fiddling around with a musical instrument, slapping some paint down on a canvas, adding some color to a blank coloring page, opening up your computer or notebook and putting your very own words there, actually getting down to the business of creating whatever you heart is moving you to dream about is f**king scary!


The biggest barrier to folks' creative pursuits that I hear (after "I don't have the time," of course - but that's a whole other mental block I plan to unpack in a later blog post) is "I just don't have a good space to work in." And, while that may indeed be true, that their spaces aren't designed especially for what they want to do (I don't go around demanding folks prove to me that their homes are crummy for creativity - that's just rude), it isn't their imperfect space that is keeping them from creating; it is their perfectionism.


You will never have a perfect space for what you want to do.


Never.


I don't have a perfect space for what I want to create, and I have been honing this particular space for my creative pursuits and art business for almost 15 years! And, during that time, especially when my son was younger, my studio space was frequently a repository for all the things in our house that my family, including me, didn't know what to do with.


So, more often than not, my studio has been a cluttered, disorganized mess.


But, my creative energy and desire to get something out of my head and onto the page does NOT come from my studio, regardless of what state it's in.


My ability to create comes from me.



This bit of exploratory art was not created in my studio at all,
because it is currently too much of a wreck to do anything in!
This exploration of Crayola Colorsticks (a new coloring tool I stumbled
upon this holiday season) was inspired by a book I discovered while
meandering in a bookstore this December,
The Creative Journal: The Art of Finding Yourself

Again, I created this bit of exploratory art as far away from my
currently disorganized studio as is possible, on a couch in our living room!
 I have been loving playing around with Crayola Color Sticks this January,
 so you can bet your bottom dollar they are gonna get reviewed in the next
Coloring Nerd's Supplies Guide episode!

And, your ability to create comes from you; not from your perfect space, not from your perfect lighting, not even from your perfect supplies - just you.


That is not to say that all the "right" supplies and perfect spaces don't make creating feel more possible.


Having the perfect paper, the proper pen, the smoothest surface, and the brightest lighting does make *thinking* about illustrating my next full-sized coloring book, Feminism Is For Everyone: A Coloring Book, easier.

But, all that perfection hasn't resulted in me actually creating, actually sitting down to draw and finish this project (and I absolutely have the space, and even sometimes the time, to work on my next coloring book!).

Point blank, working on my second coloring book scares the sh*t out of me (I've talked about this fear before in Train Your Brain (Moving Through Perfectionism To Create) Episode 1: Reject Perfection). I'm not really sure how I came to create the my first coloring book, Doodled Blooms; - it just sort of happened all on its own. I illustrated the pages of Doodled Blooms using the sketch book that also happened to be my journal at the time; I used the drawing pens that Steve had given me *years* ago, but were collecting dust on a shelf; I drew what came from my imagination, never once thinking that I should research "how to illustrate drawings for others to color;" I worked on the project wherever I was seated, using whatever surface was handy to support my sketchbook and wearing my regular glasses (I now have "drawing only" glasses - yes, they make such things, especially when you demand them). Somehow, without all of the perfection I currently have at my fingertips, I created and published a coloring book; emphasis on the I.

The only truly necessary ingredient, the only ingredient I have been lacking the proper proportions of when it comes to the creation of my next coloring book, is me

I have told myself "I will get back to Feminism Is For Everyone once     X     happens," and I have filled in the blank with a vast array of things that were more pressing than returning to this intention that I set for myself three years ago. Why? Because while many of those things might have also given me the jitters (sending my kid 1300 miles to college, opening an online Coloring Shop, returning to the world of tap dance instruction - yeah, I lost a bit of sleep over ALL of these major creative decisions), they all seemed, to me at least, incredibly doable, and some of them were going to slowly happen over time with or without me, so hey, I might as well make it look like it was my idea, right?

I am the missing piece to my current creative conundrum; creating Feminism Is For Everyone: A Coloring Book can only come from me...once I allow myself the space to create, imperfectly.

And, if you are harboring desires to move your life in a new creative direction, if you are putting off        X         and saying it is because of     Y & Z     (whatever those blanks may be), it is only you and you alone that you need to just get started, imperfectly; all the rest eventually just falls into its proper place.

But wait - I promised y'all an authentic studio tour! Well, here it is, my perfectly imperfect studio and a perfectly imperfect me: I got the idea for this episode of the Train Your Brain series during my workout, and I wasted no time in setting about doing the video (if I think *too* much about getting in front of a camera, I chicken out) - so I've got workout face & hair and don't care!  



My art studio is a place of chaos and cats that somehow I have *still* been managing to create some art in and around.

Is it perfect art? No.

Is there such a thing as artistic perfection? My gut says the answer to that question is most decidedly no.

So, what am I waiting for when it comes to finishing up the illustrations for Feminism Is For Everyone? What are you waiting for to get going on what you're wishing to create?

The answer is clear, so hopefully, we will show up, soon, and provide for ourselves the space to create.

I hope you enjoyed this super real behind-the-scenes tour of the Have Color Will Travel Studio; it was actually more fun to make than I thought it would be, especially after I decided my studio tour would be perfectly imperfect.

Comments

  1. Love it - looks just as I would imagine for you. Off topic comment - I know y’all aren’t Apple folks, but if you have the opportunity somehow to see Apple TV+, Dickinson (saw the book, is why) was an entertaining *trip*. (Arwen)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it:)
      And, my studio is definitely an outward representation of my brain, for better or worse! Also proves that while I am not a fan of nostalgia, I am quite sentimental.
      I have no idea how to go about seeking out Apple TV, but at your recommendation, I now have a reason to figure it out! Thanks:)

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