Sometimes things go swimmingly. That’s the way it went for the first three recording sessions for an art project video for this year’s Life Book* program. I was confident, well-organized, articulate, painting well, and able to paint and talk at the same time! It felt great!
Yes, sometimes things go swimmingly. On the other hand, sometimes they just really don’t.
I was looking forward to the fourth recording session. It should be a little break from the intensity of the second and third sessions where I was painting an owl. Now it was time for some little things that shouldn’t have been any problem at all. But things quickly fell apart.
My hands were shaky. My brushes seemed to have a will of their own, doing just what they wanted, not what I thought I was guiding them to do. I either had too much water in the brush and my strokes were too thick, or I had too little and my strokes were raggedy. I felt like I simply couldn’t paint at all. Painting that teacup, which should have been easy for me, felt like the hardest thing I’d ever painted.
Then my narration went sour too. My distress was loud and clear in my voice and, I’m afraid, sometimes in my choice of words! I was getting flustered and didn’t know what to say. I was discouraged. You know how it is when thing after thing goes wrong and you get to the point where you expect the next thing you try to go wrong too. I couldn’t pull myself back from that, and it seemed to be getting worse by the minute.
Finally, I realized I needed to stop for a while. When I got back to it, it was a little better, but not much. I finished, though. And then it was time to decide what to do about what felt like a debacle.
The problem with recording one’s process is that you can’t do things over. At least, not practically, since I was so far into the project. To do this part over, I’d have to re-do the whole thing, even the first three sessions that went so well. Re-doing would have been possible (barely, given the schedule), but completely impractical. Where was the guarantee that I wouldn’t hit some sort of snag in the next go-round?
I reached two conclusions.
The first was that editing this segment would be a big job.
The second was that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to show a teacher struggling. After all, we all do from time to time. And the fact that we’re all in the same boat should be comforting. (I did consider the possibility that his was rationalization, but in the end, I think not.)
When I started editing, I found that it was, indeed, a big job. But I also saw that the raw footage wasn’t as bad as I thought. When I finished editing - finally! - I saw that the edited footage was fine as a part of a whole.
As I reflect on the fact that part of the purpose of these Life Book sessions is to promote well-being, I’m reminded that although being confronted with something difficult can be distressing, working through it successfully is, in fact, a contributor to one’s happiness and positive sense of self. I did it!
* The program is organized by its founder and main artist, Tamara Laporte, and includes projects by approximately thirty guest artists. I’m so happy and proud to be one of them.