Sunday, January 10, 2010

No Room for Perfectionists

I’m not sure how often I am absolutely, positively, 100% satisfied with a painting when I finish it. Generally, artists are quite hard on themselves. Our self-esteem is often under attack while we attempt to create a memorable work of art. We struggle to build a perfect composition. We strive for a message that is powerful and meaningful. We painstakingly endeavor to maintain a quality standard. Frankly, we need to back off a little!

An unknown author once said, “Perfectionism can create excellent results, but the cost of getting there can cause stress. So instead of striving for perfection, I am for excellence in all I do.” I believe that is the key. To strive for excellence in my art, I can let go of the self-imposed charge to create the perfect piece, while allowing myself to explore and pursue new directions in technique and subject matter. Salvador Dali said, “Have no fear of perfection - you’ll never reach it.”

The path of a painter is no place for a perfectionist. Only God is perfect. If we attempt perfection, we will never be happy and never reach our goals. Indeed, some of the most appealing and beautiful features in a work of art can be the result of an accident while painting, or a wild brush stroke that speaks boldly, or simply knowing when to stop and call it done. This is not to say that we should stop working hard to create good art. We can’t allow our work to own us and cause us so much pain. And overworking a piece will ultimately ruin it. I know! I often don’t know when to quit.

I really like the quote from photographers David Bayles and Ted Orland, “The seed of your next artwork lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece.”

I can’t say that I have now solved all of my problems with regard to the excellence of my art, and I still don’t always know when to stop working on a piece, but I try not to beat myself up like I used to. And, I have learned to throw out a poorly conceived or rendered painting, rather than trying to salvage it when it is terminal.

relieves stress!

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