Tag: tenniel


[Please note that all images in this post are either by me or John Tenniel from his illustrations for Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass and taken from “Annotated Alice”. Tenniel’s illustrations are in the public domain…and better than mine.]

I love to read books and look at art. I love to read books about art. It is inspirational to see what others are doing and the way they solve problems. I observe, “This is how this person showed texture. That was how that person created a relatable character.”

Sometimes I just like to take it all in and try to enter the world they created. Or try to understand what the work is trying to tell me. Or what the author or artist was trying to say.

But sometimes there are bad days where I look at or read something wonderful and I think, “I could never do that. Why am I even trying?”

Tenniel’s “Annotated Alice” p. 184 and 185. Tenniel’s illustrations are on top and mine are on bottom. You can see more comparisons between his originals and my reproductions in the flipbook at the bottom of this post.

These are days where the distance between where I am and where I want to be seems immense. Impossible. Comparisons can be discouraging, especially on days where nothing I do seems to go well.

It may seem obvious that comparisons like this aren’t helpful. I am comparing the practice work I do at home while I’m learning to something someone did after they’d put all the practice time and learning time in.

I may be right, and the work I’m figuratively hitting myself with will always be beyond my skill. I may be wrong. In any case, it’s impossible to know right now.

I once read that comparisons are like climbing a mountain. When you look up, the top of the mountain seems so far away. But, you can get there, if you keep climbing.

I think that if you’re always looking up, it’s hard to appreciate where you are right now. On discouraging days, it might help to look back for a moment and see how far you’ve come. If you can get this far, why not a little farther? Just keep going. Better days will come.

What do you think? Do you sometimes have a problem with comparisons? What helps you when you feel discouraged?

[3d-flip-book mode=”fullscreen” urlparam=”fb3d-page” id=”3525″ title=”false”]

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As I mentioned last week, sometimes I have a hard time with perfectionism. Today’s post includes many of my imperfect drawings. A lot of the time, right after I write or draw or paint something, I feel like it wasn’t very good. It’s easy to see all the mistakes and want to just throw it away and pretend it never happened.

Cross hatching in grass wrong. Tenniel from Annotated Alice p.26 1-5-18

Giving it a few days usually changes my mind, and the mistakes seem less obvious or critical.

Her head is too big. redo? 1-9-18, Tenniel, Annotated Alice, p. 31
Well, it’s a little better, 1-10-18

Sometimes, I’ll write or draw or paint something and I’ll feel pleased with it right away. By some happy accident, it will turn out better than I expected. Did I do that? I feel a sense of wonder. Sometimes, weeks later I’ll return to these happy accidents and they aren’t as good as I remember. That feels rather like being crushed. Ouch.

Arms too close to face. Argh.
There. Not as careful, but her proportions & spacing are better. 1-4-18

Sometimes, years later, I’ll read something I wrote and it is funny or interesting and surprises me. Wow. I did that? Maybe I’m better than I thought. Am I still that good?

What can you do if you feel like you have no way to objectively judge your own work? Especially when you really want it all to be perfect but never feel it quite hits the mark?

Gesture drawings of people around the neighborhood.
I do them very fast to practice embracing imperfection.

My solution is to keep moving forward, trying to finish things, even when there are terrible mistakes, and it feels like I should just abandon the whole thing. I try to be consistent with my practicing, even when I feel discouraged and want to abandon it all.

head at wrong angle. Rt. arm too high.
Tenniel’s “Annotated Alice” p. 58, 1-23-18

You’ll have fun if you just start, I tell myself. And afterwards you can have a peanut butter sandwich. And call your mom. And maybe you can take a nap.

(I always promise myself naps. I never take them. Someone I admire recommends twelve-minute naps to increase productivity. Maybe I’ll try one after I write this. I told myself I could. Maybe.)

So, that’s what works for me. Any suggestions from other perfectionists? Anyone know any good rewards that aren’t related to food? I eat too many peanut butter sandwiches.

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