Monday, April 8, 2013

Type A (for "Anna") and Being a Painter

When my mom came to visit last month, we got into a discussion about personality types and I said something along the lines of, "I don't really think I'm Type A..." to which she interjected, "I always thought you were Type A!" That got me thinking. Whenever I have a question about something, I Google it (Yes, I'm one of those). According to Wikipedia, Type A individuals are described as "ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status conscious, can be sensitive, care for other people, are truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving 'workaholics' who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence." 

Well, Mother's always right. I'd say that description fits me... perfectly.

The article goes on to mention a book written for the "diagnosis" and "treatment" of Type A behavior. I had to laugh after reading that, since I know how much my own drive and artistic obsessions have gotten in my way over the years. But I don't think Type A is something we should be trying to "treat." I think, from an artist's standpoint, that it's actually a good thing.

It was clear, earlier last week, that I needed to take a step back from my easel. I was working on a couple of larger portraits, neither of which seemed to be going well. Often I will start a portrait feeling incredibly energized and hopeful about its success, only to feel deflated after a while because I start to overwork and overthink the whole thing.

Well, my remedy for this was to spend a day with my twin sister, who, is not at all Type A but is a sweet and caring Type B. :-) Emily is my best friend and is the first person I go to when I need to talk something through. She told me to channel my frustration and self-inflicted misery and turn those things into positives. Maybe frustration is determination. Maybe the misery will lead to an "Aha!" moment, where the my brain has to switch gears and totally change its thought process. After all, as Clayton Beck says, "Your paintings are a complete reflection of what you are thinking (or not thinking). If you don't like what you're doing, change your thoughts."

So how to use this "Type A" stuff to my advantage? I am extremely sensitive. I take things personally. I get impatient. But I am also determined and not willing to settle for anything but my best. Maybe I just need to learn how to step away once in a while. The "cure" for Type A is to live in moderation... doing nothing in excess, having close friends who love you enough to peel you away from the easel, and of course, leading an active prayer life. Once you've "re-charged", you can go back to the studio again with that confidence and panache that people love you for... :-)

That's exactly what happened. After some time away, some time in the Word of God and some good conversation with my sister, I went back to the easel and finished those two paintings in two days. And you know what? I'm happy with them!

Here they are:

"Scarlit Tones" (Portrait of a Songwriter)
29 x 22" - oil on linen 

"To Paint or to Play" (Self Portrait with Bella)
28 x 12" - oil on linen 

I'll talk about the new self portrait in my next blog post. There is a little bit of a backstory... :-)


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