Making progress rather than seeking perfection

Practicing something new is a great way to keep expanding your skills. Its also a way for me to stay in the beginner’s mind, humble, and remembering that I am here on earth to keep learning.

I have been really taken by the gorgeous clouds recently. The bright blue sky, sparkling sunshine, and puffy cumulus clouds have been irresistible and I’ve photographed countless skies.

This day, I could not journal right away so took my usual photos, to save the moment for journaling later. An hour later, I had about 20 minutes while I stood outside in line waiting for my take-out order.

A perfect nature journaling moment!

Imperfect clouds

Progress not perfection

Normally love to splash on watercolor, but this time I challenged myself. I just had only my journal and fountain pen so I decided to do this without color.

It was tough because I’m trying to convey the values with ink— it made me think and try new ways of making marks on the page. How do I show shade of light blue with black ink? What is important to convey?

A mantra I’ve had since college popped into my thoughts: “I’m here to learn, not to already know”. This reminds me that I can make mistakes and do things badly on the road to mastery of any subject.

I found myself a few times thinking “this is bad, you should just stop” or “just add color it will look prettier”

To each of these thoughts, I kept responding, no, I’m making progress at something new.

It’s uncomfortable to share this journal page because my inner critic is telling me it’s “not good”. But I know that each page is a building block of my progress.

If discovered that this is a great way for me to force myself to think about color value. It was also a neat exercise in realizing I want to see other ways of conveying shading, texture, color with pen and ink. I understand that pen and ink versus watercolor are different media and makes me think in a different way.

Nature is imperfectly perfect

Look around at nature. There are not two flowers that are exactly identical, no trees that are perfectly symmetrical, or two apples that are identical. Nature has slight variation and imperfections. We are part of nature, so we CAN be imperfectly perfect too!

No two clouds are identical. And no on would know if your drawing of clouds was not exactly like the real thing. In my nature journal, I’m not going for photographic representation (otherwise I would tape a photo in there!). I want to capture my 3D experience (including feelings, senses, emotions, reflections) on a 2D page. So I’m simplifying.

Just make progress

It’s hard to do something when it’s new. Just take a breath, and put a mark. Scribble. Make a bunch of lines. Don’t get precious about the page- this is scratch paper for practicing. And know that every time you get the pen to paper is one more step toward excellence!

How about you?

Is there something new you are doing? What do you tell yourself if you get stuck?

Or is there something new you WANT to try but haven’t had the courage yet?

What if we all tried something new and gave each other encouragement and positive feedback? Wow- we could shift the energy and all benefit from it!

Let me know, what is something new that you are practicing progress, not perfection?

Are you allowing yourself to do this imperfectly in service of improving your skill?

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