"Eggplant and Lemons"- workshop demo - 6x8" (sold)Robert Genn just wrote a great post on perfectionism, and how we are unique in our ability to either use it to our advantage (adaptive) or let it wreak havoc in our painting lives (maladaptive). Check out his post - he offers up some great tips for addressing the issue.
Confusion Endurance - What It Is
His post has prompted me to write about a topic I have been contemplating for a while now. I recently read a book called "How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci". In it the author states that all successful creative people have one thing in common, something that DaVinci had in spades: it's the quality of confusion endurance. LOVE this term, it is absolutely brilliant and it is something every artist can benefit from developing further.
Confusion endurance is the ability to get curious and roll up your sleeves when presented with a problem to which the solution is not readily apparent, as opposed to avoiding, procrastinating, getting anxious or just plain shutting down in the face of confusion.
How Confusion Gets in Our Way
From both personal experience, and what I have observed cropping up in the painting world of most of my clients, I feel I can safely declare this to be the number one reason for a lack of flow and momentum in our studio work.
I believe the need to check email, surf the web, put on a load of laundry, take the dog for a third walk in the middle of our painting day (or perhaps as a means of delaying getting started in the first place) - can be directly attributed to avoiding that uncomfortable feeling of being confused, stuck, or unsure of how to proceed - and lacking faith that we have the answer within us.
It's not so much that we don't have the answer immediately available, it's the idea that we should have that has us swinging into the world of panic, discomfort and unworthiness - or as Robert likes to call it, the "Imposter Syndrome".
A Better Approach
What if we met the discomfort head on, with a sense of adventure and exploration, and a focus on this moment - rather than what might or might not happen as an end result?
Painting asks us to cultivate our capacity to be with confusion, to not label it as a problem or something to move away from, but rather a spacious place where all kinds of wonderful, currently unknown things are possible.
If we bring that, and a judgment-free faith in our own creative process, trusting that all we need is a desire to try things out and see where they lead - then open-hearted curiosity can take precedence over the idea that the goal is to be clever, skillful or accomplished enough to have it all figured out now.