Thursday, August 4, 2016

My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1756: The "Ugly Stage"

It has been a perfect morning so far. (I know – I have only been up for an hour or so! But really, it is good!)  The air is quiet. The sun is shining. The world is still asleep. I am on my second cup of coffee and the cats have been fed and are lounging in their various spots, dreaming of the next meals (or whatever cats dream of!) 

It is Thursday, and I have a full day ahead to do what I like best – designing. 

I say this like it is an oddity, and in many ways it is. While I truly love wearing many hats for my business, it seems that by the time I get all the ‘mechanics’ of things done every day, there is very little time left to do what the purpose of the business is in the first place – design. 

I am not complaining really. Not really. Because if I didn’t have the things to do like answer emails, pack and ship orders and all the other things that take me away from the design table to do, my business wouldn’t be very successful. You can’t have one without the other. Then there is the time that I like to spend on my own projects that I am making for myself designed by others. The list is long there and I doubt I would ever be able to finish everything even if I lived to be 100. But that is a good thing, right?  No matter how many days left for me here, I hope they are filled with the joy I feel when creating. It is as important to me as breathing. 

So having an 'open’ day when I can just work on a new project is quite the treat. I have so many cool ideas living in my head that I want to show you. It is difficult to decide where to begin. There comes a time when I have to 'just do it’ and  pick on and go. So that is what I will do today. 

Since I have nothing to show you as far as that is concerned, I thought I would show you the progress I made on my “Day 7” ornaments from Lynne Andrews. (From her book Christmas Blessings.) While I didn’t get to work on them at all last night (I was too tired and went to sleep 'early’) I did make significant progress on Tuesday evening. After showing the beautiful photos of my Day 6 ornaments, seeing the beginning of the Day 7 ornaments was quite a striking contrast. The polished, professional look of the Day 6 pieces was nowhere to be found as I filled in the four plus layers of washes on the Day 7 backgrounds. They sure looked – well – “ugly." 

It came to me though, that this would be worth sharing. Every time I show my finished pieces, I receive a lot of compliments and a lot of people tell me "I can never do that” or “Mine wouldn’t look like that”. 

I really don’t believe that at all, and I wish I could sit down with each and every one of those people and SHOW them how easy it is. The thing about painting in general (and really MANY things in our lives) is that things don’t always occur INSTANTLY. In reality, they almost NEVER do. 

I think that we have been so predisposed to seeing things happen quickly or all at once that we sometimes forget that in all probability it took several small steps to accomplish. It doesn’t mean that these steps are difficult, but they do exist and if we can retrain ourselves to get past everything having to look 'nice’ from the get to until the finish line and realize that there may be several 'ugly stages’ involved, we will be good. This involves having faith in ourselves and confidence and that only comes with experience. 

So with that said, I present to you my “ugly swans”:

(I just realized the significance that these are swans – which also begin their lives looking rather “ugly”. My cleverness was certainly by accident!)

So you can say your collective “YUCK"s and "EWW"S.  I don’t mind. Because I know that these little ugly swans will morph into some beautiful, majestic animals and take their place among their counterparts (the other ornaments) with pride and grace. They are already shaping up a little better in the next step:

You need to trust me on this one. I am sure your project will, too. 

It is all part of being patient and having faith in yourself or your teacher to walk you through this stage. Part of the process of creating may (and usually does) involve building a not-so-pretty foundation to carry your beautiful design. That way the delicate details can be just that – delicate – while the little seen base of the project does its job to give a platform for these details to reside. I think this applies to lots of things in life. 

Too many of us are not willing to allow this stage to happen. We want everything done quickly and to not only look good at the beginning, but through the entire creation process. In most things, it just doesn’t work that way. I think that not only acknowledging the 'ugly stage’ of things – no matter what we are working on – but also embracing it will not only give us a better understanding of our projects, but respect for them as well. It is a very valuable part of the journey. 

With that said, I will get to work on my new designs. I hope to spend some time this evening working on my swan ornaments. We will see what the day brings. 

As a final thought, I wanted to share a photo of a visitor I had the other day. 

Isn’t she beautiful?  That is right outside our side window.  Being from Chicago, I appreciate things like this in my own yard. It only adds to my love of the country and the peacefulness of my home. 

I hope you think about how many things in your life go through the "ugly stage”.  I think that being aware that it exists in many instances not only helps you accept what it means, but gives you hope that things will get better. It is just part of the process.

Iwish you all a wonderful day today. Happy Thursday to you all!

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