Sunday, May 24, 2015

Your Own Worst Critic

Last week I briefly touched on the subject of your number one critic:  that is, there are billions of people in the world, and out of all of them you're the one who is the hardest on yourself.

I think that it is supremely important to be your number one critic.  Tell yourself that you need to rework that section or maybe even start from scratch.  But I also think that this can be taken in two extremes.

The first I haven't run into half as often as the second.  The first is where you think you're all that and a bag of chips.  You're so amazingly talented that there is nothing else to learn and that everyone should bow down and acknowledge that you are the supreme artist of the universe.

(Yes, I have met some people like this.)

The problem with not being hard enough on yourself is that your art doesn't progress. Problems aren't corrected and they become a habit.  Also, no one likes to hang around self-important people who can do no wrong, especially other artists (and we know from last week that a group of fellow artists are essential to have around).

Don't get me wrong, having the spunk and confidence can really help you out in your art career, but it must also be tempered with a thirst for knowledge and the attitude for improvement.

Now the other half of the spectrum; the second extreme.  This one is more common (at least in my experience), and I sometimes find myself veering towards it.  The habit of critiquing and tearing our art (and ourselves) down way more than we realistically have to or should.

With this attitude all of our work sucks and the moment we put pencil to paper we instantly hate what's coming out of it.  We look around in envy while our classmates or fellow artists are zipping through their piece and every bit of it looks perfect.  They have lines of people wanting commissions and they have time on the side to draw what they want.

This is a pit, a tar pit, and it's very hard to get out of.  There is a phrase that my teachers have always told me and it pops up whenever I'm having a difficult time with my art or learning something:  Whenever you are trying something new or are learning something for the first time there is a curve of learning (thanks teachers, I learned that in middle school). They would continue - if you are struggling with a technique or new medium you feel like you're bashing repeatedly against a wall. You don't feel like you're improving, in fact you feel as if you're going backwards, but something quite the opposite is happening.

You're not bashing into a wall, you're surmounting the arch, you're almost at the zenith and it's the most difficult part of the learning journey.  You've almost pulled yourself up on the next step.

This moment right here?  Is when you're actually learning the most.

Yeah, it never makes sense in the moment when the person you're painting suddenly has three eyes and is an interesting shade of green. It literally doesn't feel like you're learning or progressing anywhere.  Sometimes you just got to have faith that it's happening and when you look back you actually do see the distance, the moment when the switch flipped, ect.

Art is work.  Your family or friends might think you're playing around with coloring books all day or something, but in reality artists work as hard as any professional out there.  You just have to keep at it, have a desire to improve, and work past those walls.

Till next week -



  1. Lol, yes coloring books, that's exactly what I think you do all the time! I love it!

    And 'till next week' reminds me of reading rainbow. 'Till next time!'

    1. You can get a job doing the coloring for someone else's picture; so I guess, in a way, you could sit around and do coloring books.

      Btw, you're silly.