My name is Katie. And I’m a recovering perfectionist.
Like many of you, I have always lived by very high standards.
This has served me well at times, and has disserved me at other times, like with any trait we own.
Driven equally by the desire to please and the fear of failing, I have many a times talked myself out of starting something just in case I’m not good enough.
While my need to be perfect is much dampened, it is very much still alive in me.
8 weeks ago, out of impulse as I waited at the counter of an art shop, I signed up for watercolour painting classes.
I was SO excited!
the shackles of perfectionism
Because I know me, and the way I can be, I consciously gave myself permission to simply enjoy playing with this new skill and explore the process of creating.
But sneakily, my inner critique came to the party.
Since I was young, I have always daydreamed about working in the arts. From being a conductor to owning a gallery, I also seriously pursued music and photography. But I never felt myself to be good enough.
I realised I was applying the same rigour of perfection to my painting. And it showed.
My art was structured, and perhaps even timid.
There was no oomph in them, no personality.
They were direct copies of someone else’s work.
And I couldn’t break free from the shackles of “getting it perfect”.
The thing is, with creativity, you simply cannot apply the rules of perfectionism.
Because it restricts flow.
Just as in life. It’s just a little less obvious.
the importance of wabi sabi
Then I came across an amazing artist based in Perth. I was immediately drawn to her work. Not only were they truly stunning, they were uniquely hers. She was obviously technically accomplished, but what interested me was her ability to play, and to experiment.
Because that was the reason I signed up for art classes. And it was exactly that which I was not doing!
Debi wrote about wabi sabi in her art on her website, and I had the immediate realisation I was doing the exact opposite.
central australia from the air, watercolour abstract
And the irony, I teach about wabi sabi.
Meditation is about simply being.
Without judgement. Without a care for the outcome.
With curiosity and compassion.
The reward is in the process.
It is complete freedom.
To be you.
life imitating art
Exactly the same in art.
Exactly the same in life.
And yet here I am.
Learning what I am teaching.
They do say you teach what you need to learn.
So I’m learning to let go some more.
dance like no one is watching
Wabi sabi is the art of imperfection, a Japanese tradition of acceptance and appreciation. It teaches you to see beauty in the rawness of what is.
It is the charming antidote to perfectionism. And art has given me the perfect opportunity to practice a little wabi sabi.
Art is more than being able to replicate another painting or a photograph. It is more than being technically perfect. It is allowing yourself to be freely expressive.
One must drop all sense of right and wrong, of good and bad. The ego’s need to please. And let loose.
Debi also says that if you are rigid in your approach, your painting will also be rigid. She encourages you to let your hand and brush dance.
And such as in life.
If you are rigid, life will be rigid.
If you dance, life will come alive.
So as I allow myself to dance a little more, my art is starting to come alive. I have shared a few of my recent works with you here, to indulge my inner artist and to freak out the inner critique!
How can you also adopt wabi sabi in your life a little more?
kata tjuta colours, 2016