Zen of Art. How to tame the Dragon called Perfectionism?
In search of perfection. A tantalising empty promise. An Illusion. “How Good” does my art have to be, before I’m satisfied? When will I be content and not frustrated? What does it actually take? And hey! why should I bother thinking about this anyway?! How can I chill out, how can I Zen while creating Art? How do I stop being so frustrated and be more content……. in other words, How to tame that dragon called Perfectionism? Wabi Sabi. Wabi sabi is an excellent way to get more Zen into my life and serenity into my art. Wait! Back up! WHATS WABI SABI? Wabi Sabi properly described would be a long post indeed! My interpretation is – it is a way of thinking, accepting and learning to see beauty in the Imperfect, in the Impermanent and in the Incomplete. 7 Elements of Wabi Sabi
- tranquility seijaku
- simplicity kanso
- natural shizen
- freedom datsuzoku
- weathered koko
- subtle grace yugen
- asymmetry fukinsei
Wabi Sabi is about embracing the simplicity in the ordinary, the natural, the old, the weathered. Its about looking beyond the shallow surface of plastic perfection, to the deeper innate grace and beauty that lies within the entity. Wabi Sabi in a way relates more to the inner than the outer. Like many of you, my lifetime of ‘conditioning’ … had been to accept the standard ideal of what is Beautiful and to strive to obtain that exactly. If it was on a magazine cover, That Was Beautiful. Beauty was found in THAT kind of form only. Heavens! don’t mess things up by trying to make the ‘ugly’ battered plant into a thing of eloquence and grace.
But Wabi Sabi changes this! Reverses it, so how I see the subject in my heart, is free to be expressed, to show the loveliness that it truly holds. And with this changed approach to my art, comes a greater inner serenity and fulfilment. This in turn is conveyed and translated into my images as I create and paint. Tranquility of mind creates a centered and focused mind, that is ready and open for discoveries. When I am calm, relaxed I am at my best for learning, seeing and creating. We all are pretty much alike in this regard.
Most of us perform better in a non anxious state of mind. Perfectionism and harsh self criticism only reinforce an anxious state. Listening to soft music, nature music, or sitting in the garden, takes me into a lovely peaceful calm zone. I may wander about the garden, looking for some simple natural shapes of old leaves or snail shells to observe. I find this liberating and revitalises my creative energy. Patterns of weathered benches and stones have a beautiful and imperfect quality that is refreshing.
When I find the Dragon needs retaming and I need more ZEN – I stop, pause, think: Wabi Sabi!