Make art to embrace imperfection

February 28, 2017

Written By

Tabitha Dumas

I call myself a recovering perfectionist a.k.a. an imperfectionist. It’s been a while since I had to actively fight my perfectionistic tendencies and a recent experience at a local “paint and sip” event reminded me that it’s a stellar idea to

make art to embrace imperfection.

I already wrote about becoming an imperfectionist here.

The main idea is…

No one thinks you’re perfect so give up the act.

Alas, to embrace imperfection means being willing to put yourself in situations where perfection is improbable.

Making art, especially in a group of strangers under the guidance of a knowledgeable instructor, will either cause your perfectionistic self to rear her ugly head or encourage your inner imperfectionist to come out to play.

I was recently thrilled to experience The Art House Gilbert in downtown Gilbert, Arizona. A Sunday morning of bottomless mimosas (or for me, bottomless orange juice due to being pregnant), lively music and painting was much-needed for this creativity-starved mama.

Our instructor, Kory, was funny, patient and knowledgeable and led us step by step through the process of drawing then painting our piece.

Art to embrace imperfection by Tabitha Dumas The Art House Gilbert

Ready to begin! The Art House Gilbert

At the first step, lightly drawing a circle in the middle of our canvas, I’d already sketched out my circle before I noticed the guy next to me using a ruler to make sure his was perfectly centered. Oops.

With the second step, I was about ten leaves in before I glanced around and realized my leaves were too small. I knew it would throw off the whole proportion of the piece.

I had a moment when a feeling of something like regret and dread washed over me.

“It’s going to be obvious that it’s off center and how am I going to fill in the rest of the circle when I have five inches of extra space??”

That’s what happens to perfectionists when they know their results aren’t guaranteed–they want to quit. It’s also why we don’t start projects until and unless we’re sure we can complete it successfully.

So what did I do? I fought the feeling and made up my mind to embrace imperfection. I savored a sip of my orange juice, took a deep breath, resolved to relax and enjoy the process and kept going.

When I painted over my pencil markings, I made the leaves a little bigger. In the empty space at the bottom, I filled in more roses and leaves. I added colorful dots and buds to cover a few errant paint smudges.

When it came to the roses, Kory assured us that, once it was done, they would look like roses. He was right. Marvelous. 

I couldn’t believe it when I got out to my car afterward and two-and-a-half hours had gone by.

Art to embrace imperfection by Tabitha Dumas The Art House Gilbert

The final product! The Art House Gilbert

Perfectionism will always try to edge its way back into our lives. That’s why we have to purposefully embrace imperfection. Art is a great way to do that.

I love how my piece turned out and I can’t wait to go back to The Art House Gilbert and take people with me. Maybe even some fellow recovering perfectionists.

If you’re in the Phoenix valley, check out The Art House Gilbert’s event page.


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