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Perfection in Art

Perfection is an idea deeply rooted in art.  It is an aesthetic ideal to which the artist strives to be creative and share with the world.  Whether you’re creating a realistic painting, an abstract, impressionist, or interpretive model of reality – all forms of art seek to be perfect in their presentation of what exists in the world as described by the artist.

Perfection is a myth

The ugly truth is that the reality of “perfection” only exists in the realm of dreams.   Nothing is perfect, but the art of creation itself, since all art is derived from the creator of everything – who is perfect.   Can I get an Amen?

Perfection does exist

Some might disagree with me, in that they may feel that some creative endeavors do, in fact, result in perfection.   In my mind, the only creative endeavor that creates something perfect is food.   Round Rock Donuts are perfect.   Every. Damn.  One.

The Effects of Perfectionism on the Artist

Perfectionism leads to procrastination, which builds fear with the end result being paralysis.  That is to say, that if you let your idea of what is perfect control your creativity, then you’ll never create anything because you’ll be limited by your fear that anything you create will not be “good enough” and you’ll never get past the stage of “starting” to create.   You’ll always either put off finishing your creation, or you’ll be in constant denial that it’s “good enough” — which can actually result in a worse result than had you stopped when it was simply “good enough.”

Overcoming Perfectionism as an Artist

As a student learning art, I’ve found it very difficult to bet past my personal expectations of what it means to produce a piece of art.  My initial task has been learning to draw. I found myself comparing my drawings to the reference materials which I chose to emulate.  Perhaps this is why other artist advised me to choose to draw objects of real life – since you can’t compare your drawing of an inanimate object except with the object itself

To overcome issues of perfectionism, produce more art

It might seem to be counter-intuitive, but the secret to getting past procrastination caused by perfectionism is to push yourself to produce more art.  If you’re learning to draw, draw more.  Painting?  Paint more.  Whatever you are creating – just create and do so without any intent to share it.  You’ll quickly come to understand that the process of creation is a healing process.

Put yourself in the right frame of mind

One thing that has greatly helped me put myself in the right frame of mind is choosing to create while listening to music.  Music is important to us because it helps our thinking, our feelings, and our emotional state.   It is my belief that creative people, those inclined to express themselves by creation works of art specifically, feel emotions deeply.   That is to say, we are sensitive to our surroundings.    This sensitivity is also why perfectionism has an inhibiting effect on our creativity.

Artists are driven to create

The last stage of artistic development as an artist is a feeling that we must be creative.   An artist engaged in the creation of art and doing something so fulfilling that it’s part of our core being – the idea of perfection is broken – because the artist is no longer comparing their own creative work.

The art of creation

Bob Ross very famously said that there are no mistakes when painting, just happy accidents.  He also called his show “The Joy of Painting” – and for a very good reason.   He came to know that his greatest joy was having fun and sharing that joy with other people.    Even his trees were happy.  As I learn and become a better artist, I have adopted this philosophy as my own.  Replace your fear with fun.   Listen to uplifting music.  And understand that art isn’t sharing fear – it’s sharing what we love.

About The Author

J.W. Spencer

JW describes himself as an outdoorsman, though he is a technology professional. He is a veteran of the USMC. His undergraduate studies were taken at SWTSU, with graduate studies at Texas A&M, and the University of Texas at Austin. His hobbies include driving long distances, painting, writing, and finding interesting out of the way places. He also likes burnt toast and dark German beer. He lives deep in the Texas Hill Country at the Bull Creek Ranch with his wife Traci and their dogs - an Jack Daniels (Aussie), and Samuel Adams (Bichon Frise).

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