You have no idea how much I’ve struggled with perfectionism.
I suspect many artists do, but my relationship with it was obviously toxic.
While perfectionism can yield beauty, it can also shroud it.
When it sticks its needly fingers into your craft, inevitably… it’s going to kill or maim it, or make it so-so.
I remember watching this with an old artist friend.
He came over one evening to paint me and two of my friends.
After he finished, I sat for a moment admiring the finished piece. It was simple—all whites and browns and tans and charcoal. Our faces were open and expressive, our bodies relaxed.
Then, seeing some invisible-to-me imperfection, he started fixing it.
First, he painted in some color and then, twisting his lips, he pushed it up into the corners. Then, he smudged black paint into the bottom of the picture, darkening it.
Something I’d just sat admiring became dark and brooding, its spirit squashed.
Eventually, he simply painted over it with big strokes and it was done. No more painting.
Perhaps this is the journey of art… to try something, and fail, and to try again.
But I can’t help but think… chasing perfection destroys art.
Although, like the fine-tipped hairs of a small paintbrush, it can offer beautiful detail that isn’t possible otherwise…
You can’t paint an entire painting that way, nor do you always need it.
Sometimes the most beautiful pieces of artwork are fluid, not stopping to pick and piece.
Sometimes the picking and piecing makes the art more perfect, when that picking and piecing is in the flow too.
Nature works like that. And her art is perhaps the most majestic and spectacular imaginable.
We as artists can only try to replicate it.
And the chief law of nature is love in constant motion. Life creates and keeps creating because love and pleasure and joy and enjoyment are knitted to creation like two sides of a blanket.
So… when your art flows in that same river, it will always be beautiful.
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