Work in Progress

When looking back at my childhood, countless images of colored paper and glitter glue are what come to mind. My messy drawings littered my fridge and cabinets, reminiscent of a rather haphazard art gallery. An armoire in our living room was — and still is — the reluctant home of our family’s miscellaneous art supplies. And when I wasn’t watching some Cartoon Network or playing a computer game, I was on the verge of starting some new project.

And no matter what medium I tried, I was eager to dive right in. I took ceramics, scrapbooking, jewelry making, and even woodshop classes in my elementary school years. Rather than focusing on improving skills, these after-school programs focused on the simple pleasure of trying a new craft. Though I didn’t really appreciate it at the time, this mentality fostered my young self’s creativity, thus contributing to my happiness as well. Long story short, my earliest years were full of passion, and I, in no way, denied my desire to create.

Middle school was categorized by doodles crammed in the margins of notes, the best of which I liked to cut out and save. I recall taking art classes, sketching, and doing stained glass pieces, but something was a little different. My desire to improve in drawing became difficult to ignore, and I sought something akin to perfection. Well maybe not perfection per se, but I was putting in an enormous amount of effort to make sure my best work was produced every time. Such a mentality made completing the simplest sketch an exhausting endeavor, as I couldn’t ignore even the smallest mistake. As a result, I rarely completed any project outside of my graded assignments.

My high school years brought me back to art in the form of a fine arts class. By the time I had reached junior year, I hadn’t drawn freely for several years. Art had become something of a chore for me, and I definitely felt the weight of this mental burden during the year in which I took my class. Though I found the assignments to be laborious at times, I will admit that the practice ultimately made me a better artist. Some of my best work came out of those high school years, and I treasure it to this day. If not for that class, I might not care about drawing as much as I do now.

As for my present-day college self, it would be accurate to say that I’m trying my hardest keep my desire to draw alive. Because when I actually get on a roll, it feels like I’m transcribing little pieces of myself into the page, as horrendously cheesy as that sounds. Drawing is a source of stress for me at times, but it is also a source of joy. The satisfaction that comes from making something that you’re proud of is irreplaceable. I can’t quite bring myself to let it go entirely.

However, I acknowledge that I only draw sporadically, or when I can find a spare moment. In fact, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to draw more, even if the quality of what I produce is lacking. After years of stumbling through the creative process, I now realize that art is ultimately about practice, especially if improvement is your end goal. Even if I feel like what I draw is subpar, I know that I should just do it anyway. Thus, I can give one piece of advice to anyone who enjoys creating; do the thing, even if you’re unsatisfied with the product. You will improve subtly as you continue practicing, and the act of creating something will contribute to your emotional health. I’m still working on taking this advice myself, but, hey, it’s a work in progress. We’ll all get there eventually.