I taught a rather simple painting tonight. a feathery light blue background with grey and two rows of minimal trees in black and pale grey. from the stage i explained the steps quickly, showing each branch with a flick of the wrist. i heard some people sigh, and begin to doubt themselves. i heard a few negative comments people made jokingly about their own trees being awful. i got off the stage and made a lap around the room, expecting the worst from the corners of the room that i had heard complaints from…but the tress were all there, and lovely, though each one different.
it is a familiar happening. we are our own worst critics sometimes i say that almost every time i teach a class to beginner artists…then proceed to go home and be mean to my own reflection with negative internal dialog.
often ive seen two equally great paintings, one who’s owner calls it awful the other who’s owner calls it a masterpiece. ill see an AMAZING painting, but out the eyes of the person who made it, an epic blunder is all that appears.
ill tell them “you are focusing on the little details because its in your face for so long. try taking a photo of it with your phone, or taking a step back, or even flipping it upside down, that will help you see how it actually looks, instead of how it looks in your minds eye.”
and, “don’t be so hard on yourself “i often say
yet aren’t i hard on myself?
its ironic.since sometimes when i look in the mirror all i can see are crooked teeth, a big nose. and wide hips…but a different person,a barbie like person appears in a photo. i will often say the photo was the untrue thing, that it was merely a good photographer, a kind lighting or angle, or even that I myself, was simply more photogenic than pretty.
im not kind to myself in many ways.
Like when i stay awake half the night to finish enough pieces for an art show. Or when i go hungry because i do the math in my head, and think i ought to put less things in the basket in favor of more art supplies. if i don’t try harder it wont be good enough. i wont be good enough. i say.
i’m not sure why we are so hard on ourselves as women. maybe the standards we see everyday in beauty and success are so unattainable that we fail to see the truth anymore.
Maybe it is a bit like looking at the instructors carefully planned painting then at yours (done by a newbie) and expecting it to be exactly the same. feeling like anything less is a disappointment,
Here’s the truth: Even a very talented artist will tell you, the painting you made has value because YOU made it. even if it is not perfect, it is yours. Not something from walmart or ross, mass produced on a piece of cardboard with inkjets the shell of what was once an artists image that was altered on a computer a thousand ways…a mass product without the soul your original handmade thing has. Even if the printed image is great…there is.no comparison! one is real and one is not.
Maybe we all need someone leaning over our shoulder saying, this is beautiful, don’t be so hard on yourself.
i don’t understand why i can be that person to others so easily and sometimes have a tough run applying it to myself. one day i feel flawless, and the next, i look in the mirror and feel complete disappointment. That feeling like we aren’t good enough isn’t reality.
i’m good enough because i’m me. i’m the only one. and you are the only you. no comparison.
I’m trying to remember, as i fight for my dream, even on those days when my best just isn’t good enough for a full cupboard. on those days when id rather spend time on ways to make my reflection better than spend time appreciating it for how it is.
a simple turn of phrase can provide encouragement…so lets turn the phrase,
“i’m only me”
“i’m the only me”