Saturday, January 1, 2011

Pretty Page Syndrome

I'm doing a weekly prompt at Suzi Skool for the Arte Journal group. It was Suzi's group but she said I could take it over and I asked the girls what they wanted to get out of the group and they said PROMPTS. So here's the first one about PPS for you to enjoy:

Pretty Page Syndrome: the reluctance to add to or change a page in your journal because it's "too pretty" to "mess up".

Here's how it usually goes for me: I make a face using all my guidelines and measuring VERY carefully. The INSTANT I erase the guidelines things start to go downhill. The face never looks as good as it seems to with all those lovely lines in place. So I have to erase, re-measure, erase some more. Draw new guidelines. Make things bigger. Make things smaller. Erase. I spent over an hour on this pencil outline:

Finally I have a face that I sort of like:But I'm not so good at hair. OK, I stink at hair. So I KNOW that as soon as I add hair, she's going to look horrible. Right? Right. Right? Or...the only way to get BETTER at hair is to make hair. Now, I really admire Ajae's hair and the way her girls look. So I take my phone out and I study some pictures she's sent me and I decide I'm going to try and make hair like Ajae...only, I'm not Ajae and I can't make hair like she does. Not yet, anyway. So instead it's probably better to make hair that I can handle.

Hey, that's actually not too bad. Is it possible that this is an entire girl that I LIKE? Face, hair, even a shirt?!? Looks like it! Holy crap, I actually did it, I made a face that makes me happy. step is color. Again, a place where I know a lot of people tend to get stuck. My face ALWAYS looks better before I add color. So I just spend some time with her instead. Who do I want her to be?

Mini Me saw her and said "Mommy, you made such a pretty queen!" And right here is where a LOT of times, I turn the page and start something else. Because I'm pretty good with a regular pencil. And because right now, everything is still fixable. One swipe of my eraser and it's gone and I can change it. And two or three years ago, Suzi gave us permission to quit, so I often remind myself of that and simply move on instead of making myself uncomfortable.

But I really wanted us to tackle this PPS together. So I kept going.

First I painted the "unimportant" stuff - background, wing, crown. Because it's only a crisis if I screw up her face, right? Right. So I kept going. Colored the face, even. And I actually didn't F her all up like I could have even when I tried to add dark green to the tips of her hair. It turned out awful and I had to "fix" it. I did and it looks perfect - you can't even tell. But I'm glad I tried what was in my head, even though it didn't work out.

I still like her and since I like her, now would be the perfect time to stop. Right? Right. Except...she's kind of boring. I mean, pretty and all, but boring. But so pretty...but also boring. So, I keep going.

I gave her some PanPastels, some words, and some doodles. I also edged the page with ink, and added stitching with a black sharpie around all four edges. I think she's amazing. Certainly a lot better than the original pretty page. Something I think we all need to do is not RUSH. I wanted to have this page done by tomorrow and I started it yesterday. I sat at my painting table with her and my pens, pencils, pastels, and tools all around me while my son played trains next to me and my husband watched Deadliest Catch. And I trusted my weird notions. I thought "Hm, how would she look with a black and white checkered edge on her crown?" and I shrugged and drew it in. Necessary? Nope. Cute? Sure. With all the words on the left, the right seemed unbalanced. So I added a little blue doodle. If you're absolutely terrified and can't make a mark on your page - take a picture. Print it. Practice on that. But just try something.


  1. She turned out so well Goog!! This post is so cool, as it explains and illustrates the process.
    I haven't been at Suzi skool in a while, or online much at all really as of late... I plan to get back in the swing of things now that the hellidays are behind us, hahaha! I will check out the arte journal group!

    I see you growing sooo much as a wonderful artist! And her hair is LOVELY!
    xo's ajae

  2. She turned out good, I'm really happy with her! :)

  3. Wow, this is gorgeous! And its always good to see a work in progress.
    So glad you are joining the calendar challenge, looking forward to seeing your calendar pages :-)
    Happy new year!

  4. She is fabulous!! And all those little swirls you made, especially in (is it?) silver - they add so much!! I look forward to seeing more of your art. Glad you're doing the calendar. I'm starting to work on mine.

  5. Hooray for you. You overcame your inner/outer critic and created a fabulous unique page. Love your colors and lettering. Look forward to seeing more...

  6. Goog, this is absolutely fabulous, and such an inspiration.. I love everything about this

  7. Love the work AND the post!!!! I thought I was hearing my muse talking in this post!

  8. Great post and drawing! It makes me want to get my journals out - which I've neglected now for weeks. :) Thank you.