Be Brave, Not Perfect

This week I've been thinking a lot about confidence, self-worth, self-esteem, and bravery. I don't want to go into detail here regarding exactly why I was thinking about this, because it's very personal and not necessarily art-related, but let's just say that I've been on a journey during the past 18 months where I've learned a lot more about myself - and other people - than I ever expected. I'm facing up to certain feelings that stem from things that have happened in my past, and I'm questioning these and trying to find a way forward to a time and place where I can be free of them.

At school, my teachers would often describe me as "conscientious" and "a perfectionist". Perfectionism is a trait that has been ingrained in me my whole life. I used to think of it as a positive trait, something to be proud of, but I now see it differently. It's actually horribly restrictive; it stops me from fully enjoying or celebrating certain situations or outcomes (because no matter what, I always feel I "could have done better"), it makes me judge myself harshly, it constantly makes me feel "less than". I never feel quite good enough - as a woman, an artist, a person, whatever. And it's stifling; it stops me from doing certain things, going outside of my comfort zone or trying something new, because I always want to be exceptionally good or accomplished the moment I start. If I'm not, I feel like a failure, get frustrated, and want to give up. Do you see how stupid that way of thinking is? Anyway, two things happened this week. The first was when I unexpectedly found an old email from Leon. What he'd written in this email, to me and about me (and our relationship) changed my way of thinking totally. This was truly a God-send (or a Leon-send) and I could write a whole blog post about this alone. Secondly, I was listening to some TED talks while painting, when this one was suggested to me. I highly recommend giving it a listen.

Boldness, Peace, Bravery. Acrylic on canvas. 12x12" / 30x30cm © Natasha Newton 2016

Boldness, Peace, Bravery. Acrylic on canvas. 12x12" / 30x30cm © Natasha Newton 2016

If you listen to the talk, you'll understand where I'm coming from. If you don't, maybe you'll still understand anyway. I no longer want to be perfect. I will strive to be good, or brilliant even, but I will no longer attempt to chase after perfection. There is beauty and freedom (and possibly more happiness) in imperfection.

What I'm interested in is being brave, in both my work and my life. And finding the sense of peace that comes from this freedom. The painting above is my latest piece, Boldness, Peace, Bravery. A friend I've recently been meeting up with suggested that alongside the paintings I'm currently working on, I have a "little bit on the side". By this, he meant a small canvas where I can try new ideas or colour palettes with total freedom, and without feeling in any way restricted. So I did. I now have some little "bits on the side" in progress, where I'm gradually becoming braver in my colour choices and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. This feather painting was one of them. You may notice that the colours are fresher and brighter than my usual palette. I've gradually been moving in this direction anyway, but I hope that the "bits on the side" will speed this process along, and my work will evolve in the way I'd like it to - and match the feeling I have inside and the images in my mind.

Inspired by this small one, and feeling emboldened, I'm now working on a huge feather painting (30x30" / 76x76cm). Watch this space!

[If you like this post and want to show it some love, don't forget to press the little heart in the bottom right corner, or share it on social media by clicking on the 'share' link, where a drop down menu will appear with various options. Thank you!]