This past week I have been working on pieces for my shop. I’m having so much fun working on all these different projects, and I was thinking that it’s this new found freedom that’s making the work purely joyful.
For the last 14 years I’ve been working in homes and businesses as a decorative paint contractor. What that means, in the simplest of terms, is that I tried to create my client’s visions. That is also, in the simplest of terms, the big, fat problem.
When I was working, each client described their dreams, and hoped that I could translate their words through color, product and technique. Now remember, 95% don’t have art degrees, and neither do I, so the chance that our terms mean the same thing is close to impossible.
Through paint chips and sample boards I tried to fine tune the idea. But even after that, no two people envision the same end result in their head. Now I will say that over the years I got really good at this and in most cases the client would say it turned out better than they expected. But hears the rub….even if it was better, it never looked the way they thought it was going to…..never.
How could it? They only had limited knowledge of the products and techniques I use. But more than that; this is handcrafted artwork, not wallpaper. As a professional I got very good at controlling my products and techniques, but one thing I realized late in the game is this – I will never be able to completely control the outcome. As a perfectionist – this fact became my nemesis.
I love to make people happy. My favorite clients were the ones who would gasp every time they walked in the room saying, “OOOH, I love how this is turning out!” But sometimes even when the finish was beautiful, it didn’t match the client’s vision completely. It may have matched the sample, and it was the colors they chose, but the fact of the matter is, how they pictured it in their minds is different from how it came out. Their friends loved it, it matched the furnishings perfectly, but I could still sense this small flicker of disappointment. That is what became unbearable for me, and a really big reason why I stopped working for clients.
The freedom I’m experiencing now is this….I didn’t tell anybody what it was going to look like so no one is going to be disappointed. I’m the only person who has to like it. I can change my mind in the middle of a project, I can even paint it out and start over if I want to. It’s something I haven’t felt in a really long time, and it’s actually been difficult to let go of the constant panic I was used to feeling while I was working. I’m starting to get used to being completely happy while I paint. It’s so awesome!