Reply To: Struggling with Perfectionism

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Rebecca Van Alstine

Chris: Thanks for sharing! Your post makes me call into question my expectations. I think maybe I’m not giving myself permission to be “in process”. I feel like “I was born with talent, therefore I should have this down and my work is just evidence of that”, whereas the reality is that drawing is a learned skill that you work at to achieve higher levels of mastery. I’ll think on it some more.

Alexander: As soon as I start reading your post I’m reminded of how skewed and out of control my relationship with my art has become. I certainly do enjoy realism (not sure if I could ever stray too far from that), but I think over the years I’ve worried more and more about “impressing my audience” than actually expressing myself (which, as the only artist in a non-artistic family, is a very very damaging thing). I think at some point, years ago, I received approval for how “real” my drawings looked, and I learned that what’s important, what other people notice, and thus what will bring about acceptance and recognition of my art is how much it looks like the photo. People always get excited when “It looks just like the photo!!”.

But these days I’m very much out of touch with “why” I draw, what my message is (much less what “expressing myself” would even look like), and I don’t feel very creative at all. I want to get away from photographs and be able to work more loosely when I want to, but I’m terrified that without a reference no one will be able to recognize what it is, and that’s about the furthest thing from realism (i.e. “Acceptance and Approval”) as it gets. So I’m certainly not realizing this for the first time, but I’ve been so used to operating out of the “Realism at all costs” mindset that I get sucked right back into that without even realizing it!

Thank you for putting things into perspective again; I’ll look into your suggestions and contemplate the different purposes and motivations for art as I’m looking towards the new year…