I was stuck on an illustration composition. The character in the foreground was completed but the character behind him was giving me all kinds of trouble. I had drawn the perfect face for the character, but that was all that worked about his composition. The angle of his trajectory was off, the perspective was odd, and his pose just felt awkward.
The face, however? The face was perfect. It was everything I wanted the character to exude. It was bold and strong, masculine and joyful.
So I kept trying to retrofit my drawing to fit the face. I tried new positions. I tried new angles.
Finally I gave in to the ever-growing sinking feeling in my stomach. I needed to start over. Unfortunately, that meant erasing the face I had so beautifully constructed. I needed to walk away from the created good in the hope of something better.
With this perfect face now gone, my canvas opened up to me. My new sketch came fluidly, quickly, and with surprising ease. Furthermore, I drew a face for the character which I liked even better than the first! It was sexy, tough, gritty, and cool. It was handily a better illustration than the one that preceded it.
This whole incident has me wondering.
Does my life have any "perfect" faces that need to be erased? Is my life a harmonious composition? Or am I retrofitting my life around a single element that seems perfect, but is actually holding me back? Have I created anything beautiful that has become an obstacle to my growth?
Just because something is beautiful, doesn't mean it's right for a composition. Just as working hard at something doesn't necessitate keeping it. Sometimes we need to just... let go. No matter how scary it is. No matter how empty our canvas looks in the process. If the face doesn't fit the composition, it hurts the drawing. No matter how well the face was drawn.
I had no idea when I erased my drawing that I would like what I created in its place. I certainly didn't expect that I would like it better. But I wouldn't have known that without letting go of the good that I had. In the end, it only would have been a "perfect" face on an awkward body.
And that's not really perfect, is it?