When our Best isn’t Good Enough

Mistakes

 

Living Artfully is a journey fraught with surprises both delightful and bothersome. Experiencing a long awaited dream come true, as in the publishing of Genevieve and the Kite, is wonderfully fulfilling. Yet, as it goes out into the world, it brings back responses. Some of them are positive, uplifting, and encouraging. Other responses are dampening, confusing, and in some cases, backhanded swipes at what you’ve made.

There are many ways to weather this vulnerability in the aftermath of putting a creative project out into the world. I won’t explore all of them, but will just say that it has been helpful to me to remember something my husband once said about a knitted sweater I had made him. I was going on about a small “mistake” I had made and didn’t catch until nearing the end. He said (something to this effect): “That is precisely what makes hand knitting so wonderful. It’s the little imperfections that make it so wonderfully human. It is in them that I know it was lovingly made for me by you.”  <sigh>

I can get all balled up in actual or perceived “mistakes” I’ve made in everything I do. The worst is when you thought you had made something just right and it turns out it has flaws of one sort or another. This is art. This is evidence that a human being made it, and made it lovingly, for you.

LettersCover

I will soon have another creative offering to put out into the world. Though I am doing all in my ability to make it just right, I’m sure it will have a flaw or two or twenty.  I’ve compiled my Letters to an Artist into a small book which I hope will be of encouragement to creatives of all types.  Be on the look out for it to be published sometime in November.

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One of the many delightful surprises in the aftermath of publishing Genevieve and the Kite, was an article that came out in our local newspaper last weekend. Wendy Davis wrote a lovely piece about the making of the book, and I could not be more grateful to her for her kind words. I’m trying to get my hands on the article so I can put it here on my blog for you to read. I’ll let you know when I do.

On this first day of November, as a season of thankfulness comes upon us, I hope you’ll be able to revel in the creative works of your hands, no matter how flawed they may seem to you or to others. Don’t squelch your creative voice in the fear that it isn’t good enough.  These mistakes, either real or perceived, are merely places for God to breathe in and through your work.  (Click on the above artwork to view it larger).

0 thoughts on “When our Best isn’t Good Enough

  1. Sharon says:

    Hi Jennifer – I always tell my young art students, there are no mistakes in art, just happy surprises. Thanks for sharing your ups and downs in your recent art endeavor, you are a inspiration. -Sharon

    • jenpedwards says:

      Thank you Sharon! As an art teacher myself, I often say the same thing to my students. It’s funny though, how easily I can say it to them, but when it comes to myself…not so much. Ha! I gotta practice what I preach, eh?

  2. Phyllis Alden says:

    I pulled my treasured copy of “Genevieve And The Kite” from the basket that I keep beside my favorite chair. I carefully read it again, and again. I found again charm, affection, and kindness.
    My friend Elaine once told me she was plagued by the “Yeah, buts…” She pictured them like the little Tribbles in Star Trek (remember that episode?). Every time she wanted to do something new, the “yeah, buts…” circled around her feet, tripping her up. She had to work hard to overcome the Tribbles-like “Yeah, buts…”
    Takes courage to overcome even one “yeah,but…”, let alone the herd (gaggle, horde, flock?) of them that assault artists on a regular basis. I eagerly await your next project.
    As always, you inspire.

    • jenpedwards says:

      Oh, that’s cool…thank you for sharing your friend’s “Yeah, buts…” I am familiar with those! Would you, if you felt inclined to do this, write a simple review of “Kite” on Amazon? There’s a box to click that says Write a customer Review. I would be most grateful!:)

  3. Timaree says:

    Oooh, I can’t wait for the new book!

    Oh yes, those flaws perceived or otherwise. They can be a bit of a problem can’t they? Yes, we tell ourselves not to worry (I even keep saying I am not a perfectionist) and then I see a good and figure it’s the end of the world again! Grandkids have helped a lot as I keep telling them it’s all okay. I even believe it a bit myself and hope to keep repeating it till I truly believe it. Mostly I do. It’s only when I share with others and they say something like “so what made you dye your hair purple”? that I wonder if I goofed again. I agree with Sharon that in art there are no mistakes. I would have added “outside things like getting a straight line straight or a building to be vertical and such but then I think of Matisse and well, perfection isn’t really in the straight lines or vertical buildings is it? It’s in whether the book gave you the right idea or the picture brought out the emotion you were hoping for or any emotion for that matter. I made an error in a sweater leaving out an eyelet hole right next to the button band. I enjoyed that sweater for daily wear during the cold months for over 20 years! I’d say being able to wear the sweater (without anyone else noticing my mistake too) means I reached perfection I think, whatever that really means anyhow.

    Not everyone will like what we do and I’ve had my share of off comments so I know how damaging they can be but when you get a comment such as your husband’s it reaches right down to why we do our art anyhow – to put our best human self out there expressing our take on God’s creation and it’s good. It’s just good. Just like what God said about His creation. I truly think perfection is the devil’s take on what should be and of course, it’s never reached leaving too many feeling badly. Well he can have that, I’ll take a few “mistakes” over perfection which is too often somewhat cold anyhow!

  4. Elaine Magliacane says:

    Well I can not even imagine the damaged soul that didn’t like Genevieve and the Kite… and then took the time to spew their hate on you. It is a delightful book, with charming drawings… a storybook for all ages. Pay no attention to the naysayers other than to pray for them as they must be in a very dark place indeed.

    • jenpedwards says:

      And…I’ve asked Phyllis and I’d love to a ask you Elaine, if you might be willing to write a small review of the book on Amazon? Scroll down the page a bit and there’s a box with Write a customer review in it. Just click on it and share your thoughts. Thank you!

  5. jenpedwards says:

    Thankfully, Elaine, I haven’t had any real overt negative reactions to the book!! I’m so thankful for this! It is in interactions with others about the making of the book, the promoting of it, the “in between the lines” of the conversation, or in my own assessment of ways I could improve it. I can almost handle outright “hate” better than I can insinuation. Does that make sense? Overall, it has been a very positive response!! I am concentrating on that!! It probably says more about my own “perfectionism” as Timaree so wonderfully articulates, that a few odd comments can send me reeling. I have a lot of growing to do!

  6. Wendy says:

    As they say, don’t let the turkeys get you down. I haven’t read it yet, but if people are being negative, why, it’s really a reflection on them. Not on you. You just keep on being you and doing all the things you do so well, and try not to focus on the negative people. Remember what Paul said in Philippians 4:8. 🙂

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