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Overcoming Perfectionism

by | May 30, 2023 | Art Lessons | 0 comments


What are you aiming for? If we are striving for a great final painting, we can cause issues for ourselves by being stuck on perfectionism. The fear of making a mistake that we can’t recover from, or perhaps making a lack-luster painting, is something that can paralyze us, or cause endless fussing.

Strive for:

– Learning

– Exploring

– Expressing an idea

– Trying out an idea

Perfectionism is a false belief.

Perfectionism is NOT possible – because it requires some other judge of what is the best possible solution out of all possible solutions. It makes the artist useless. It also requires ALL of your viewers to have the same taste and perception. (Even two best friends don’t have this, let alone everyone!)

If perfectionism did exist it would most like be exceedingly boring. Imagine a character in a book who is perfect. Completely not interesting. 

What is the cause of your desire for perfectionism?

Perhaps it is one of these?

– Embarrassment

– Fear of rejection

– Shame

– Pride (this one is usually my “sin”) 

– Some old art teacher from the past echoing some horrible statement in your mind (if so- listen to this message)

Becoming a better artist is a JOURNEY not a DESTINATION. The best thing about art is that it is limitless. We can always be improving. We are never done. Embrace that with everything you have. 

We need to balance the ideas of improvement with the freedoms of experimentation. Striving for perfection can lead to creating high-quality work. On the other hand, seeking perfectionism leads to frustration, dissatisfaction, and even a complete lack of motivation to create. As a painter, it is important to find a balance between striving for excellence and allowing yourself the freedom to experiment and make mistakes. Here are some tips for overcoming perfectionism in your painting practice:

  1. Embrace the process. Painting is a creative process that involves making mistakes, experimenting, and learning from your experiences. Embrace the process and allow yourself the freedom to create without the pressure of perfection.
  2. Set realistic goals. Instead of striving for perfection, set realistic goals for yourself and focus on making progress towards them. This can help you to stay motivated and keep a positive outlook.
  3. Practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself and recognize that perfectionism is a common struggle for artists. Instead of criticizing yourself, try to focus on the positive aspects of your work and what you have learned from the experience.
  4. Take breaks. If you find yourself becoming frustrated with your work, take a break and come back to it with a fresh perspective. This can help you to refocus and find inspiration.
  5. Celebrate your successes. Celebrate the successes and milestones you reach in your painting journey, no matter how small they may be. This can help to boost your confidence and keep you motivated.

Remember, “good enough” can be loads better than waiting for perfect. Is this art lesson perfect? Nope. If I had waited for that, it would never exist. And, hopefully its existence has been helpful to you.