Are We Too Tough on Ourselves?

I think I an too critical of my own work.  I know that I’m slowly learning to appreciate where I am at today (skill-wise) and this helps me to see and measure my progress.  Some days I am ok with how I am progressing and other days, not so much.  But at least I am starting to feel comfortable with knowing the direction that I am heading.

What made me think about this are two things that happened in class Friday.

The first thing was a person new to Rob’s class was standing next to me working and she was having a difficult time of it.  Although we were in a drawing class, Rob tailored this one to take us from charcoal to an oil grisaille and I don’t think she’s had much experience painting with oils.  She seemed to be struggling with the medium but her rendering of the form was great.  She did a portrait and asked for some help the last 20 minutes of the class.

I helped her as much as I could.  It was a strange sensation because I could see where she’d properly mapped out her lights and darks but she couldn’t figure out mid-tones.  Considering that she didn’t know how to use oils I thought she did great but all she saw was failure.  It made me wonder if we are just too hard on ourselves?

The second thing was the painting pile.  There is a spot in the general area where students place discarded canvases/boards for recycling (i.e., free for other artists to use).  Last Friday evening someone placed a several pieces  of linen there.  I went over and looked and there were a variety of landscapes -large and small as well as some paintings from the Fall term (I recognized the models and poses).

These paintings were really good.  I would have been pretty happy had I done any of the landscapes let alone some of the figurative work.  I was sad to see this hard work in the discard pile.  I guess they thought their efforts weren’t fit to keep.  They were wonderful.

I wondered if they were just too hard on themselves or if they did not have supportive friends who could give them honest and solid feedback that they could trust?

If you paint and you don’t have someone who can give you this feedback try to find a group of like-minded artist who will provide this type of support.

If you live in an area that is rural or you’ve tried and can’t seem to find anyone virtual isn’t a bad substitute.  There are groups on facebook for most types of genres as well as websites dedicated to a variety of medias (i.e., scribbletalk, wetcanvasconceptart, etc).  Try to find one that fits your style of painting but don’t be shy-get out there and meet folks.  Remember to be both supportive but honest in turn and have fun.

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2 responses to “Are We Too Tough on Ourselves?

  1. Dear Cindy,

    Here is part, only part, of the O’Keefe quote:
    If I find the whole thing I will of course send it along:

    • I don’t see why we ever think of what others think of what we do — no matter who they are. Isn’t it enough just to express yourself?

  2. That is wonderful!
    Thank you for sharing this Suzanne!

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