Last month, I read Brené Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection. Since then, I've been thinking a lot about my own issues with perfectionism. I read a comment yesterday posted by someone named Goldbeard in response to an article on FastCoCreate. I thought it was beautiful and made me think about the paintings I'm reluctant to share:
“I can't imagine what the artistic landscape would be like if artists, writers and musicians only shared what they deemed perfection.”
More than once (frankly more than I care to admit) I have resisted adding a painting in a show because I didn't think it was good enough. I've agonized over how to fill the empty spaces on the gallery wall left by my ‘imperfection'. In a panic, I'd call a friend, who would come over, look at the pile of rejected paintings, roll her eyes and say “this one, this one, and this one…” pulling paintings from the stacks. Inevitably, not only would my “imperfections” sell, they would be among the first to go. It's equal parts funny and annoying.
I still haven't figured out what to make of it. On the one hand a lot can be said for letting go and just focusing only creation. On the other hand, I'd like to think I am a fairly decent judge of my own work.
I can't decide for others what they like, I can only decide for myself. While I paint, I'm not thinking about anything other than that particular moment: where does the next stroke go, what does it say, how does the color on the brush interact with the other colors on the canvas. Am I conscious and aware? Am I present in this moment? There's not enough room in my head for anything else.
It's when I decide to publish it on my site or on my Facebook page that I begin to wonder and second-guess. It's when I have to choose which paintings go into a show that the cold sweats break out. As for my friends being able to pick the paintings that sell (now the job falls on my husband), when I consider what they chose, I'd have to say that even if what was in my head never fully made it to canvas, I made an honest effort to get there. I think that honesty comes through.
I'm the only person that knows what I was trying to do. Sometimes I only see what is not there; what I think I did wrong. I don't see what is actually there. That is the danger of letting the creator decide what is “perfect”.
Michelangelo ordered his apprentice to burn a large portion of his work because he didn't want people to see how much he struggled. Fortunately for us, the apprentice disobeyed Michelangelo.