Feb 3, 2022
Do you like your art or yourself as an artist? Do you believe you're good enough? I think too many creators would answer those questions NO. Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary! On this episode, I’m going to tackle why it can be such a struggle to feel good about our art and how we can change our mindset and embrace our potential.
I often hear people say that If they can only finish the painting or sell enough pieces, THEN they’ll feel accomplished, validated, or credible as an artist. These things represent a desire to feel good enough as an artist. Even if there are aspects of your art-making that can improve, achieving those things won't change how you feel about your art. The moment we start to believe we’re good enough because we reached a goal, our brains will just move the target and we’re right back to where we started. Suddenly, being “good enough” can start to feel like embracing mediocrity rather than a vote of self-confidence. We get stuck in a cycle of chasing happiness that is always slightly out of reach. Rather than getting frustrated or staying stuck, we need to change the underlying thought patterns that make us feel this way. If we constantly approach art with the mindset that we can’t do it, we’ll feel like a failure even when we succeed. Likewise, if we always tell ourselves that we don’t sell enough paintings, we’ll never enjoy the moments when one gets sold. Whatever we believe, we create more of, regardless of what’s happening around us. If we allow them to, negative beliefs about ourselves and our art will rob every ounce of joy the process has to offer.
The subjectivity of art is one of the reasons it’s so great. There is not a governing body or a rule book that tells you if art is objectively good or not. Within the genres of painting, there are ideals and standards that we can use to improve ourselves, but there are no black and white rules on how to be successful. Even the greatest artists of all time have noticeable imperfections in their work and we still consider them great. Certainly, good enough. The human hand NEEDS to be visible in the art we create. We are not machines. Imperfection is often what makes art so intriguing and accessible in the first place. Of course, understanding the overall language, technical skill, and history of art still matters greatly. But it is incredibly unhelpful to compare yourself to the vast infinity that is the world of art. Focus on being the best and most authentic you instead of someone else.
Right now, ask yourself, “What do I think of myself as an artist?” Do you like the answer? Who you are today influences the artist you’ll become tomorrow. The freedom from negative thoughts and emotions that you’ve been looking for is not in your future, it has to start right NOW. You don’t have to wait for it to come to you or somehow earn it, it’s an active choice that you need to make daily. When you start experiencing feelings of inadequacy, just notice them. YOU get to decide how you respond to those thoughts. My recommendation is to give your brain a more productive question to answer. Instead of asking, “Am I good enough to paint my next painting?” ask yourself, “What do I want to say with my next painting, and what skills and materials do I need to accomplish that?” These questions focus on the actual goal rather than fruitlessly comparing yourself to every artist who has ever picked up a brush. By doing this, we reclaim our brainpower from going off in multiple directions and we can channel that energy into creativity. We have everything we need to make our art. We just have to believe it.