Last night, as I was standing in front of my worktable contemplating ideas for what to torch today, Katie came to the breezeway door with a dejected look on her face. Soon as Kate heard that To-Do's mommy (hiya, Jo!) requested a sculpture to send to her mother-in-law, she had to make something, too. Jo's mother-in-law is French, so Kate decided she would draw the Eiffel Tower for her.
We googled some images of the Eiffel Tower, and Kate started sketching with her pencil. It didn't look quite the way she wanted her "upside down V" to look, so she decided to try painting instead of drawing. Considering the quiet rustling of paper and the slightest echo of a paintbrush being swished clean in an old coffee cup, I thought all must be well in the kitchen.
Then Kate came to the doorway with that dejected look on her face and no painting in her hand. Surprised, I asked what could be wrong, and this is the answer I got:
I tried, but, Mommy, I can't make it look like what I see in my head!
What could I say? She might accept some heartfelt compliments about her painting when she showed it to me, but she'd put into words that never-ending artists' dilemna. No matter how much we progress, no matter how skilled or creative we are, it's hard to imagine ever looking at a piece and saying to ourselves, "Wow! That looks exactly the way I pictured it in my imagination!" Okay, so you might argue that the masters of art, the Michaelangelo's and the DaVinci's and the Ansel Adams', must surely have been exceptions to this rule. I humbly beg to differ. I imagine the masters have many more moments of satisfaction and pride in their works, but I also imagine they have that same refrain running through their minds no matter how amazing the finished piece is--
I tried, and I got close, BUT it still doesn't look like what I pictured in my head.
Here's another for what it's worth tidbit from me. I imagine part of the artistic drive is fueled by the need to keep trying until we "get it right," i.e. get the piece we've created with our hands to look the way we envisioned it in our heads. . . and if that ever actually happened, we would have no reason to create again.
So, what did I tell my Katie? Welcome to the world of being an artist. We all have the very same problem, this trying to make what we make look like what we see in our head. We can get better every time we try, but not many of us ever get it perfect. What we do is keep trying and keep finding some satisfaction in getting better.
And with that in mind, I hope she never gets so good that she thinks her creation looks exactly like what she pictures in her imagination. . .because then she might lose the fire that fuels that imagination.
P.S. When I did see her picture, I literally gasped. Understand, I know I see her creations through a mommy's eyes, but WOW. She told me that she couldn't get the Eiffel Tower the way she wanted, that she thought this picture looked like the city in Paris ought to look, and that she decided to just make "the city." I should take a better picture of it in the daylight, because the heavy black sky looks like velvet studded with the delicate moon and stars. The tables and chairs are what do it for me, though-- such simple lines to capture the feel of the street cafe.