My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1600: Flight or Flight

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 08-04-2015 12:26 PM 1246 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1599: Getting Back At It Part 1600 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1601: Progress! »

It is good to be back. Not only here blogging, but actually having something to blog about. Last week when I wasn't feeling my best, it reminded me just how important setting goals for myself and being productive was to my life. It is even more important because I am self-employed I think. Without setting new goals and working toward them every day, I would imagine that there is really no way that one could succeed.  I believe that 'success' and 'self-motivation' go hand in hand. The most successful self-employed people are those that take the initiative on life in general. They realize that having their own business means that it is up to them to keep things moving in a forward direction, without someone sitting on the sidelines telling them the next step(s). Because of this, self-employment isn't for everyone. It takes a particular type of personality to make it work. 

The past week was tough for me. As I mentioned before, I wasn't feeling my best. While I tried to accomplish and keep the pile moving, artistically I was having a difficult time. Looking back now though, I am glad that the pieces fell where they did and it was a good week to do the overhaul of my computer. The technical 'busy work' that I had to do (organizing, cleaning out files, backing up, etc.) was something that took a great deal of time, but not too much thought. Fortunately, I had Keith here to do the job of installing the hardware. He is great at that and knows far more than me. But once that was done, it was up to me to sort, organize and set things up to my own liking. It was the perfect job for me to do when I wasn't 100 per cent – where most of the time was spent watching and waiting for files to transfer. At least I was moving one aspect of my business in a positive direction. 

I had tried to do some painting on the first day or so when my back spasms started. After laying out the background and beautiful window and hat with the mice, things seemed to be moving along just fine. I picture the finished piece in my head and getting it from my imagination to the reality of the painting were pretty much trouble-free at that point. But it was time to add the cat in and while I thought it would be an easy task (after all – I had just finished up the beautiful tiger painting "Layla" – my confidence level was high) I soon found that I would have far more trouble than I anticipated. I got very discouraged. 

While the cat I painted wasn't horrific, it certainly wasn't what I had in mind. Even though this was more of a cartoon than a realistic animal, I just wasn't getting it right. I had several photos of black cats for reference, as well as my own beautiful black cat, Coco. But when I tried to translate what was in my head to the painting, I found that I struggled far more than usual. Things were just not looking good. 

I attribute this in part to the pain I was in. (Really!) I could only sit and paint for short periods of time, and I had to get up and move. It was hard to concentrate on what I was doing, too and the pain pills that I was taking (over the counter Robax) were making me a little tired. Or maybe I was tired from not sleeping for those few nights. Probably a bit of both. After a couple of attempts at the cat and being pretty disappointed with the outcome, I began to get discouraged. The beautiful painting that was in my mind was far from the reality of what was done before me. I was actually happy to leave it alone for several days and work on the computer stuff. After all – it was 'technical' work that required a different part of my brain and no creativity whatsoever. It was a welcome change. 

My painting supplies and half-finished piece stayed on the kitchen table all week. Every once in a while I picked it up to see if what I remembered it to be was 'really that bad'. I must say – it was. Each time I looked at it I felt sadness. It certainly wasn't what I had in mind for the finished painting. 

But the computer got finished and I knew it was time to move on to new projects. I felt the week was somewhat wasted and the clock was ticking for new designs. Fortunately, I began to feel better, and I once again began thinking about how I would repair and finish up what I started. I had too much time invested to abandon it altogether. 

On Sunday I decided it was time to move forward. It was time to face the battle I started and stop running away. The computer was done. The house was somewhat caught up. It was once again time for me to work on the now unpleasant task of getting that painting back on track. 

I spent Sunday picking on the header and footer. That was the easy part and I thought it would ease me back into the painting. Perhaps if I cleared that hurdle, it would transform what was now a bad feeling about it into something that was good again. The lettering was simple and straight-forward. Just following lines. Besides color, it took little thought and at least moved me in a positive direction. I hoped that it would once again get me excited about finishing up the painting. 

It actually worked! 

When I was done with the lettering, I did like it and it did inspire me to continue on. My back was feeling better (no pain meds!) and I felt up for the battle with the cat. It was a long day of painting, repainting and changing things, but in the end I think I am happy with the results. By 9:30 or so, I was at this point: 

I am pleased with it again. 

Below is a photo of the 'before' and 'after photos:

The left cat looked more like a Wookie than a cat. I will admit that before I finally got it 'right' it had grown to an enormous size, as well. I wound up having to re-work the wall behind her, and while I was quite worried about that, I think it blends in beautifully. I have won the battle. :)

Here is what the painting will look like with the header and footer:

I am still not done yet, as there are many details to add. But the main subjects are in and they are good and what I envisioned when I began. From here on it is "smooth sailing!" 

I am glad I stuck with this. I share my story here because I often have others tell me how 'lucky' I am to have things come so easy. Sometimes they do, but many times they do not. The 'easy' thing to do would have been to stuff this in a closet and forget about it and move on. But I didn't want to do that. I wanted to be better than that and it became a challenge to myself to see what I am made of. I am proud that I finally felt up to the challenge and faced my demon. I can't wait to continue on and finish. 

I want to live the rest of my life facing these types of challenges. I believe that is how we learn and grow. I did learn though that sometimes when we don't feel physically up for the challenge, it is best to take a step back and switch gears for a bit. When we return to our task, we often have a different perspective. Many times it is one that will help us move forward. I am glad it did here. 

It is a somewhat muggy and overcast day here in Nova Scotia this morning. It never really cooled off last night. Yesterday seemed to be the warmest day we have had this season. 

I plan to continue painting today and hopefully finishing up my piece. Or at least come close to doing so. Then on to the instructions for it. That will be the easy part. 

I wish you all a wonderful day today!  Happy Tuesday to you all! 

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

4 comments so far

View Grumpymike's profile


2439 posts in 2926 days

#1 posted 08-04-2015 09:40 PM

I do admire your artistic ability and talent. You have a special eye. (color me very jealous).

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View Celticscroller's profile


1286 posts in 2684 days

#2 posted 08-04-2015 11:11 PM

I agree with you. The cat does look so much better now even though I thought the first one looked very “Halloweenish” It all looks great! If I did Halloween stuff, I would definitely do this one.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2696 posts in 1674 days

#3 posted 08-05-2015 09:10 AM

You’re a fantastic artist, Sheila. Thank you for sharing your journeys and the ensuing struggles. Life has never been overly kind to artists, of any sort (my piano tuner/mechanic gave me that line – he played professionally most of his life). It’s a wonderful gift from God that we have a place of succor and salvation for our tortured minds and bodies, innit?

-- Mark

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3530 days

#4 posted 08-05-2015 11:20 AM

Thank you all so much. Yes – sometimes we have to take a step back and walk away for a few days. It is funny how our mood can affect our work. Over the years, I have learned to look at things in ‘layers’. Not too many years after I began painting, I remember my friend Cari and I talking about how we look at things around us and try to think of how or what colors we would use to paint them. I think that it is referred to as ‘looking at things with an artists’ eye.’ As you can imagine, this has become a normal way of looking at everything over the years. The more I grow as an artist, the more I do it.

I like to relay not only the victories, but the struggles along the way to you all. I really feel that this helps others who are having the same issues and it may some way encourage them to keep trying. It is rare when I can sit down and “just paint” something once and have it come out perfect. Like most things, it is a combination of trial and error and exploring the options first.

Thank you all for your kind comments. I really appreciate that you enjoy my posts and work. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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