The story of “Effie” begins with a spark. Occasionally, I get lucky and have a complete portrait present itself to me, like a vision; Effie did just that.
Experience teaches me that these portraits come when they are ready. Sometimes, I believe I can will these women to my pencil and paper with a demanding expectation. Of course, it never works like that. My tendencies toward quick fixes, immediacy, and perfection often leave me feeling drained and like a complete failure. Thank goodness for the soul-nourishing gift of Effie. I have seen these brushes with fate before, I am still learning they will come again in their own time.
What have I learned with Effie’s portrait? Each step forward or backward is progress. In this progress, I get to learn something. All these “somethings” add up to experience, growth, and accomplishment. Now to spend a lifetime reminding myself of this realization.
Secondly, I got the chance to meet with my fear again: could I bring to life my vision of Effie? Whenever I get that lucky strike of inspiration, I feel alive and then I quickly cover it up by questioning my abilities: am I capable of executing on these ideas? Do I have the talent to make this art? Creative talent a tricky thing. Art steps beyond talent into hard work and persistence. And I have those two things.
With hard work and persistence, Effie became something I adore. I tried to bring the fear, self-doubt, and stumbles along with me; I am happy I did. Effie gave me the chance to linger in the exploration of my creative workings. Every step felt delicate and lush even with my critic, AKA The Critic, peeping it’s head in often.
Since finishing Effie’s portrait, I have faced new feelings of doubt: is this good enough? I ask this question with all of my work, and often I get hung up distrusting my own judgment. Despite the heavy feelings, I am learning to work through this stage of the creative process. Here is how I am learning to trust my feelings rather than seeking the approval of outside forces:
How did I feel making it?
Put the work away for a week. When I greet it again, what is the first thought that comes to mind upon seeing it?
Name 3 details I love and lavish myself with compliments on how well I crafted these details.
Did I bring your honest self to the studio when I made this work?
After going through these steps, I believe what comes out of this exercise can be trusted:
If my heart sings for the work. Trust that. It is meant to be here. My judgment comes from honesty.
If it needs to be changed or started from scratch my heart always tells me. And you know what, I can hear this truth. I can bring my talent for hard work to the studio and make anything shine.
:: EFFIE, you came to me in a dream ::
Thank you for reading today. It is an absolute joy to share this journey with you.