Don’t Let Frustration Be The End of Your Creativity

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Cynthia Gougian's Mermaid Box

Meet Cynthia Gougian

Cynthia is one of this year’s administrator’s for the 2019 Polymer Clay Challenge. She is incredibly devoted to the group and for that we owe her a round of applause! [Please clap here] Every Monday she writes us an inspirational message to keep us inspired and creating throughout the week. It’s just one of her ways that she keeps all of us on task; yes, even me. Today I’m sharing one of the posts that she wrote near the end of September. I’ve chosen this one to share here today because I think we’re often way to hard on ourselves and we demand perfection from our projects and our processes. But we need to keep in mind that we must also at all times be learning something from our own polymer clay work. So without any further ado, I’d like to share a few thoughts for you from Cynthia’s own experiences in her clay room.

Cynthia Gougian's Mermaid Box

I am going to write about creative frustration! This photo is of a mermaid box I made for my 6 year old granddaughter. It’s actually the fifth version of the box, and I am still not happy! It’s just one of those projects where I couldn’t get what was in my head, and sketches to translate to clay. So-o-o-o frustrating!

So, once again, I found myself wandering around the internet searching for advice on creative frustration. Here’s some of the advice I found. Don’t let self doubt cloud your judgement – Does this scenario sound familiar? You get a great idea! You excitedly sketch out your idea. You carefully choose your clay colors, and get to work. Everything is going swimmingly. Then, suddenly, you make a mistake, or realize a major part of your design isn’t going to work out. All of a sudden, you find yourself thinking your idea was stupid, and you begin to doubt your skills. Well, don’t listen to yourself at this point. You’re not thinking clearly. Your emotions are clouding your judgement. Your idea is still good, it just needs more development. But, that development isn’t likely to take place when you are frustrated and emotional. Which brings us to the next piece of advice.

Take A Break

It’s old advice, but it’s good advice. Sometimes we just need to walk away for a bit. It’s actually amazing how well this works. Take a walk, or a nap (naps are good), then come back and look at your work with fresh eyes. Often times, a solution will easily bubble up to the surface. But, to be clear, I am not telling you to shove your project into a dark corner for three of four years! I am not telling you to give in to the frustration and “forget” your wonderful idea! This leads to the next point.

Don’t Give Up

If we let it, art (even cutesy art) teaches us resilience, problem solving, and resourcefulness. I always advise fellow clayers to complete a project at least three times, especially if they don’t like the first version they produce. The rewards of not giving up are growth and improvement, in both technique and design. As I have mentioned, this is the fifth version of the mermaid box. It’s cute, and a six year old girl can’t be expected to wait too long for her birthday gift. So, I am sending it onto her. But, I know there’s at least three more versions of this mermaid coming. For right now, I am taking a break. And, even after a short time, I’ve been able to calm down and clearly see what I like and don’t like. What I will keep and what I will discard. What I need to solve, and what is already working. I am able to self critique, not self criticize. Yesterday morning, I had myself convinced that this whole project was a disaster.

Cynthia Gougian's Mermaid Box

Today, I can see that I really like the overall composition, especially the background blend. But, I need to figure out why some weird striations showed up around the mermaid when I sanded the blend. I like the colors I chose, but the mermaid is a little too blocky for my taste. I would like her to have more movement. Oh, and I put one fin on upside down! LOL. I will have to fix that! So, it turns out, I am not a horrible artist, I just need to make a few more changes. Remember this the next time you are frustrated. You aren’t a horrible artist either!

Have you ever been super frustrated by your work? Did you just walk away and forget about the project forever? What did you finds helps you when you are frustrated? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks Cynthia; Sculpt Your Dreams,

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