Thursday 13 June 2013

The Gypsy's Message for When Things Go Wrong by Julie Gibbons

Oh my! How often have you had a picture in your head of something you want to create and it turns out nothing like your vision? Especially often if you’re a visual artist, I’d guess.

What about when you've gone through a process that usually delivers for you, and you've still ended up with something you completely dislike?

It happens to all of us - but knowing that just doesn't make it any better. Sure, logically we understand that creating content isn't a foolproof occupation and that sometimes we will make stuff that we're not totally in love with.

We also know that we are often our harshest critics. But knowing this stuff doesn't ease the disappointment and frustration when things don’t go to plan.

True Story

Most of my work centers around the process of making art, rather than the end product as a piece of art. But the truth is that I also have an ego, and often create with the hope that I’ll make something beautiful at the end of it all.

My series of Goddess Within portraits was a perfect example of such. It was to be an exercise in revealing the many facets of the goddess that we each possess through the creation of mixed media portraits.

spring goddess detail

Creating portraits appeals hugely to my sense of coming to understand and know my Self better but as my creative renaissance has been a fairly recent phenomenon, I’m also interested in developing and growing my arting skill - and hopefully developing an artistic style of my own.

spring goddess detail

The first two portraits went well and I was delighted with the results. They felt like something I would comfortably share with my friends and so I did.

Sharing this process isn’t so easy - there are so many fantastic artists out there, I know my work doesn’t have anything like the same skill or depth of qualities. But the sharing is also part of my process, and it’s definitely easier to do when I ‘like’ what I make.

When things go wrong

The third portrait in my series wasn’t at all the same experience.

Going in, I was feeling fairly confident about what I’d get out. It’d been ages since I’d made anything I ‘hated’ (such strong words we use when criticising our own work, hey?) so it didn’t even occur to me that it would happen this time.

Well, it did. The end result was so far from the picture I’d started out with. And to make things worse, I was filming everything so I could add it to my YouTube Goddess Portrait playlist!

Double trouble … It was looking dodgy from the very beginning, but I hoped that my technique would come together eventually. Eventually, I'd been at it for fifty minutes when the camera ran out of space and the filming stopped. At that point I knew I wasn't going to keep going. She simply wasn't going to be beautiful, this Gypsy Goddess.

I also knew that I wouldn’t upload the video - it was more than the portrait ‘not being good enough’ - it was that I didn’t like her at all!

It's difficult to articulate ... I don’t want to invite false compliments or have anyone reassure me that I am ‘good enough’. I believe in myself, honestly - but take a look, she really is simply not very good and I hated the look of her - I was creating far 'better' portraits a year ago when I really was just beginning!!

But what I want to convey with this story is that notion of having made a mistake - of experience mishap....

This common experience of having invested time and energy in something that doesn’t do what you wanted it to do. It’s quite a visceral experience, isn’t it? Sure, there’s stuff going on in your head, but bodily, you’re also reacting in a way that’s uncomfortable. Emotions are most certainly triggered.

And so I've decided to post the video here!

Because the process has something to teach us. I've even stopped cringing when I look at her!
When I’m creating the portraits, I'm usually aware of a message that speaks to me through them - there’s always a lesson in it for me. This time was no different.
gypsy message
The gypsy spoke to me and she said, “moving around hard to pin down. gypsy soul. love. blending in. waiting to hear the violins. then you will dance and mesmerize.
Her message was for me, of course, I don’t expect you to shout a chorus of knowing (though you might do - if you do, then we're soul sisters, come say hi!) They are simply words that struck deeply with me and highlighted my 'mistake' as another valuable experience on the creative path to my true self.
gypsy eye
Here's the translation that I think does apply to all of us:
We don’t always hear the violins to which we might one day whirl, dervish like and fully embodied. Sometimes our gifts are difficult to pin down. But when we embrace our gypsy souls and also practice love, then we will hear such sweet music that we will indeed mesmerize.
Truly, there is a gift in every 'mishap', each 'mistake', everything we create that we don’t 'like'. Yes, it is so. When I look at these small sections of my gypsy, I love them. Perhaps we just need to take a different viewpoint ...
gypsy lips

Julie Gibbons enjoys art journaling, journal therapy and mixed media. Her passion is self discovery through intuitive, creative practice, to reveal personal patterns, symbolism & archetypes of the true self.
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  1. Love this post, love the sharing, its something we all go through. Love that you grabbed your courage and posted it. We all lean so much from each other.

    1. Thanks Kate - indeed I do believe we are here to learn from each other!

  2. It's interesting. I wonder if there are two different processes going on? She looks perfectly interesting and intriguing to me. If you'd labelled it as 'good' with positive annotations, I would have been quite convinced. But I am not a visual artist, nor did I have an idea in my head of what I thought she was going to look like at the start.
    Isn't the revelation of aspects of how things look, how we look, not also part of this portrait series? including the parts we don't immediately think of as beautiful?

    1. Oh, definitely, Joanna. This is of course, written from my perception, where I am judging the output and how I feel about it. The portrait not only reveals her message to me, but reveals to me how I feel about her message. I love the paradox of the self discovery process. I can believe that it isn't my place to judge if the art is good enough, and also to understand that I'm disappointed with what I created.