Leaning into fears and away from perfectionism

Today is  a post from talented artist Corrie Wessman from CW Drawings. She has been an utter delight to work with via Smart Creative Style and one on one!

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Are you familiar with the word perfectionism? Neither am I. At least, I didn’t think I was. It wasn’t until I started working on more client work last year when I took my business full time that I began to see a pattern. I was having a lot of anxiety with my projects! With the anxiety also came discontent, feeling stressed out, and really questioning if running my own art business was something that was going to work out. I let those thoughts linger in my mind for a while until I decided it was time to dig a little deeper. There was something under the anxiety I didn’t quite understand, at least not yet.

There’s a phrase that has really defined this past year for me: “lean in”. Lean in to the questions. Lean in to the fears. Lean in when it seems hard. Life brings us lessons all the time, and sometimes they’re hard and not fun, but when we don’t lean in the lessons linger and our growth can be delayed. I didn’t (and don’t) want to stop growing, so as I leaned in to the anxiety I was feeling, a lot was revealed to me! Remember the perfectionism I was telling you about? I realized that I was expecting perfection from myself in my work and was subconsciously marketing and selling myself to create the perfect piece of art for my customers. I was essentially telling people to expect something from me that I could not possibly deliver. I was putting so much pressure on myself and was suffering big time because of it!

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After a much needed conversation with a wise mentor (Monica!) I was challenged to introduce a touch of surrealism to my creative work. From there, I produced my first surreal portrait (pictured in this post: deer in shirt) and felt an unbelievable new sense of freedom! After drawing a few more animals all dressed up, I felt this momentum/excitement growing inside of me. With my new animal drawings and custom pet portraits, the creation process gives me so much more freedom to be creative that I find myself just smiling about it all the time! Whether it’s while drawing, putting on the finishing touches, or just thinking about new projects. Every step holds so much more excitement for me because I took the pressure off of myself to be perfect!

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Funny thing is, I’m learning that growing a business isn’t only about growing a business. It’s just as much about growing personally as it is growing professionally. It has caught me off guard how connected the two are! As I share this chapter of my story, I wonder how many other women have had hesitation to start something because of the fear of not measuring up to their own standards. I’ve learned the best way for me grow and move beyond my fears is to lean in and just keep going! Oh, and cutting ourselves some slack sometimes is not a bad idea either.

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“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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You can follow Corrie on instagram here and shop for her work here

17 Comments

  • Anna says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I love it and I recognize myself in this perfectionism. I would love to know how your relationship with social media works. I have some sort of love-hate relation with it. On the one side I love it, because I can communicate with people from all over the world and get so much inspiration from them. And I can share what I make. On the other side, I get disappointed when there are none or a few reactions on my posts (and I do know from the heart that it is fine, with no reactions or with a lot. What others think and do is their business).

    • Corrie says:

      Social media is such a great tool! I love it but can also see in my own life how much it has the potential to influence the way I see myself and the work I produce. What we create as artists is personal, so it’s a vulnerable move to make it public, so when the responses aren’t what we want – it can be discouraging! Try not to let others response (or unresponsiveness) influence whether or not you show up – you’ve got a story noone else has, and it’s worth sharing!

      • Anna says:

        Thank you for sharing your viewpoint! And thank you for the encouragement!

  • Kellee Rich says:

    Hi Corrie! This is such a wonderful post! Wow, I love how that one piece of feedback (great job, Monica!) has transformed the way you feel about your work, that is wonderful. Your pieces are so great and so full of humour and skill and uniqueness – your voice comes through so clearly. I love when I read words written by an artist, and I can see the perspective they present when writing is also reflected in their work – that wholeness is so appealing and charming. What you say about growing a business being also about growing personally, I can so relate to. I don’t know why I was so surprised by that aspect (!) but I am so enjoying finding things out about myself that I didn’t expect to – what I like to make, what I don’t like to make, letting go. It’s so liberating to just ‘become’, without all that pressure we are so often tempted to heap on ourselves.

    As we just discussed on Instagram (!), there are so many similarities in our journeys. I too was holding myself back by requiring standards of myself that I would never impose on other people, and especially not artists! What I love about art is other peoples’ perspectives and stories – what the colours they choose says about their experience and outlook, what their compositions have that no-one else could offer. For reasons it took a while to figure out, I was so hard on myself when it come to offering my ‘unique’ viewpoint – I really got caught up in pre-judging my work before I’d even made it, which, of course, stopped me from making. It’s been a long journey, but I’m finally starting to celebrate the quirks that make me unique, embrace my messiness (I’m not perfect! Who knew?!) and bring all of that into every piece of work I make. Now, if I see something that’s off-centre, or maybe a brushstroke that isn’t perfectly filled in, these days it makes me smile rather than panic. I always want to produce the absolute best work I can, but I now accept that it has to be *my* version of the best, not what I think someone else might think that is. I’ve had so many wonderful, positive, affirming comments since really owning this new way of working, and I feel so deeply grateful for them, because I like what I’m making better now, too. Everyone wins when we just accept ourselves.

    It was so nice to connect with you today – can’t wait to see more of your wonderful work. x

    • Corrie says:

      Kellee,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful response! When you said “… these days it makes me smile rather than panic.” all I could think was YES. The pressure we sometimes put on ourselves is just unreal. Like you said, you would never expect from another artist the perfection you required of yourself. Why do we torture ourselves like that? It is really encouraging for me to hear your story and know I’m not alone in this journey (as cliche as that sounds!). I’ve heard before that if we push through our failures/trials, usually success is waiting for us on the other side and is closer than we think. I’m so glad you pushed through those tough spots and are now on the other side and enjoying what came from not giving up!!

      I’m excited to see more of your work as well!!
      xo
      Corrie

    • Monica Lee says:

      Kellee, I hold myself to a different standard too….! Your comment so resonates with me too! Why do we do that? Fabulous and wise words! thank you!

      • Kellee Rich says:

        Thanks for your reply and lovely words, Monica! I’m so glad my comment resonated with you – I guess the beauty is that the more of us who own up to this difficult stuff, the fewer of us that feel alone. Your site and podcast is a huge contributor to that, so thank YOU!

  • Abigail says:

    Such a powerful and honest post — thanks so much for sharing this, Corrie!

  • This is amazing. I so needed this reminder today! Your work is fantastic and so unique. I love it!

  • Karen Burton says:

    Well, you’ve hit the nail on “my” head. I keep spinning my wheels with analysis paralysis and never feeling my ideas are “good enough” and therefore keep putting off creating because of so many fears and excuses. The “perfectionism” syndrome seems the be the culprit. I saw myself in your words and really appreciate knowing how you’ve come to own your own unique viewpoint. Your illustrations are charming and refreshing! Thanks for sharing your journey – it really resonates with me.

    • Corrie says:

      Hi Karen – It feels like a relief when I realize I’m not the only one! Thanks so much for reading and sharing your story as well!

  • sarah summers says:

    Hi Corrie – I love what you’re doing.. are you finding the whole process of being creative ‘easier’? Has it all snapped into place?

    • Corrie says:

      Hi Sarah! It’s getting there, but it has definitely been a process! It’s funny, I try so hard to get things to “snap” into place and get it all figured out, but the biggest ingredient for me in figuring out the whole creative process is time… which I do not like! I like things to happen quickly and move on from there, so I’m learning patience, too 🙂
      How about you? Where are you at in your creative process/journey?

      • sarah summers says:

        I’m getting there too…I’ve recently made a few changes to how I work, including, only accepting commissions which I know I’ll enjoy. I feel, I haven’t yet found my true voice, but I have confidence that it will come, with time. I wish you lots of success in the future. xxx

        • Corrie says:

          That’s great, Sarah! I wish you the same! xo

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