Struggling with Perfectionism

Dashboard Forums Drawing Questions Struggling with Perfectionism

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • Author
  • #13088
    Rebecca Van Alstine

    **Disclaimer: I don’t mean to sound antagonistic in the least; this is an issue I’ve struggled with for years so I’m a little frustrated, but just trying to come to grips with the issue**

    Tonight I’m really wrestling with this idea of “Perfection” again. In my last artwork critique, Matt commented that there’s no such thing as perfection, although we strive for perfection all the same. But something inside me butts heads with that statement. Most of the critique content focuses on how to make a drawing more closely resemble the reference. Don’t get me wrong, that’s exactly what I want (and what Most of us here are probably looking for!): we want to make our art look more realistic, more like the model, more like the photo, and in that fashion I suppose you could say that perfection means “indistinguishable from the reference”. Well, there’s an art movement (or Style, anyway) called Hyperrealism which I am utterly in awe of (click here for examples). So with those pieces in mind, I think deep down I believe that perfection really DOES exist (because if you can’t call those “perfect” I have no idea what word you would use), it’s simply a matter of attaining that degree of skill.

    So my question is: If that degree of realism is possible… how am I supposed to believe that “Perfection does not exist” (and therefore, any deviation from the reference is not a mistake/flaw)? I’m forced to remain a skeptic. And unfortunately, as long as my goal is still perfection, my style remains very tight, very anxious, and there’s little or no room for experimentation/play/creative expression. Most of my work favors realism and I don’t want to give that up, but I notice much of my time is then straining to “get it right” as opposed to just playing around or expressing myself. So there’s an imbalance here, but the idea that perfection is simply a matter of “trying hard enough” keeps me from enjoying the process and “ruins” a lot of pieces for me as soon as I notice my mistakes.

    ~Rebecca V

    Christopher Midgley

    I too have struggled with myself on being a perfectionist.
    At one time it inhibited me, as fear of not making it perfect prevented me even starting a piece of work.
    I see mistakes in every piece of art I have produced. I have learned to celebrate these mistakes as they are markers of how much I have grown as an artist over the years. looking at past pieces of work constantly reminds me of the mistakes I need to avoid in my current work as I strive for perfection.


    Alexander Shunko

    Oh, Rebecca, isn’t it a matterr of finding different objectives in one’s creativity? What is the point of copying the already existing image?

    I guess the photograph should serve you, not vice versa.

    Beleive it or not, I feel shivers and joy every time I draw expressive and absolutely non-realistic scribbles with colour pencils or with a software and Wacom, but drawing realism with graphite makes me very stiff and sad…

    Read aboud the creation of Edward Munch’s “Scream” on Wiki. I guess there is much more sense in such creative acts than to be a slave of hyper-realism. Artist in my opinion shouldn’t become a printer with biological interface.

    See old masters’ works, definitely their power is in the subjective and very powerfull expression, not in the 100% objectivity. For example Rembrand’s strokes are much more expressive and abstract and emotionally attractive than 99% of today’s artists work.

    Wish You Happy New 2018,

    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…

    Alexander Shunko

    Yep, feel the difference. Even if you do absolutely the same things… What do you feel while you work? Do you feel Love and creative energy or do you experience fear of someone’s disapproval?

    We harvest what we plant. The attitude is very important.

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.