• Kaaren Poole

Accepting Imperfection

That’s an odd concept once you think about it! Imperfection is everywhere! Striving for perfection is setting oneself an impossible task. So what’s the option but to accept imperfection?

All true. But, still, facing our mistakes or short-comings can be a difficult thing to do. In fact, I’m struggling with that now.

I’ve just finished all the illustrations for my new book, Hope Returns to Milkweed Manor, and am in the process of formatting the book, which includes dropping the illustrations into the text.

When I created each illustration, I reviewed the text I was illustrating. But now that I’m doing my final text editing as I format the book, I’m noticing places where the illustrations are depicting late summer or early autumn weather when some of the action actually takes place further along in the autumn.

This is soooo frustrating! I should have reviewed the entire chapter, not just the immediate text I was illustrating. Because of the technique I’m using (transparent acrylic over pencil), I can’t go back and change them, and I certainly don’t want to redo them. Not only would it take more time than I have, but also, I feel I’ve already spent my creativity quota on those images. Given that I’m unwilling to do what it would take to creep up on perfection, I must accept imperfection. This is the worst example.

But there’s another. As I review the images from the beginning to the end of the book (also the order in which I created them) I see that I’ve change my style. At some point, I began layering washes a lot more than I had been, which gave me a larger color range as well as subtler color. The two illustrations below are examples of that.

Great! So now I have inconsistent style, at least with the color (but not the drawing). But I’m certainly not going to go back and redo the majority of the illustrations that I’ve been working on for the last six months! More imperfection…

I know chasing perfection is a fruitless enterprise - in short, a waste of time and an excellent way to be sure of accomplishing nothing. But glaring imperfections are tough to accept.

In the case of the illustrations which are a bit too summery, I wish I’d done better. When it comes right down to it, I was just sloppy, and that needs to change.

In the case of my evolving style, I’ll be happy about my improvement and try not to focus so much on the inconsistency. This problem partly resulted from choosing a project that took a considerable amount of time to complete. But I enjoy long projects like these, so that’s that! I’m imperfect, and so is my work. No shock there! The good parts are that I learned a lesson (hopefully) and improved my painting. And I know I’ll be proud of the book when it’s finally born.

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