Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"Extreme Perfectionist Tendencies"

I have a dirty secret. Painting is not fun right now. It feels like any job where the frustration levels are building. I wasn't supposed to admit that was I?

Do you ever get a crippling case of perfectionism? I still haven't beat this beast. This is the first oil I've finished and not wiped out. The way the paint seems to melt under my palette knife is both fascinating and infuriating. All my usual techniques don't work. Plus with acrylics there is a shorter dry time. Quick dry time means less over thinking and working fast can loosen one up.

One artist I know said, "As artists we are so privileged. How many people can say that they cry tears of joy because of their work?" I have mixed feelings about that statement. Ok, yes, I may at times "cry tears of joy" when I hit that high and it's going well, but right now I'm shedding blood, sweat and tears.

Here are a few links I've been studying this month in the hopes of overcoming perfectionism perfectly, 'ahem', ok perhaps not perfectly but at least long enough to let a couple of paintings dry.

*How to give up Perfectionism in 7 steps by Dan Goodwin (written out and taped to my studio wall)

*Phew! Traits of an Artistic Personality on Empty Easel lists " extreme perfectionist tendencies" as an artistic trait.

*Tips for overcoming Artist's Block lists perfectionism as a major cause of artist's block. I've been thinking of switching to paper, marker and pencil crayons for a bit like suggested in tip number two.

Lastly, a quote. "There is such a thing as perfection... and our purpose for living is to find that perfection and show it forth... Each of us is in truth an unlimited idea of freedom. Everything that limits us we have to put aside. (Richard Bach) *Sigh* That relates to the cause of my latest case of perfectionism. I've found out my art is in part about perfection. Now that I've written my artist's statement, it feels like a bit much to live up to.


Robyn said...

Congrats for having one of your paintings in Artful Blogging. That must be quite thrilling !

Hope you work through your frustrations soon, Shayla. Switching can work wonders...give it a try. Often when the fun goes out of the process it's because of boredom and a change can do the trick.

bridgette said...

that second article made me laugh- i also have cringed by the way people hold onto paper!! I didn't realize that I did that until I read that paragraph. funny.

i hope you don't wipe away this painting. It is lovely as is. Painting with oils can be frustrating. As can painting with acrylics. I guess it depends on what you are wanting to accomplish and what you are expecting of the medium.

I understand that frustration feeling. Where nothing is working, everything seems muddy, which then impacts motivation...the good thing is that it will pass!

Sometimes being a perfectionist can be a gift too- you can learn a lot through the trials. Hope it passes soon.

Jeane said...

well if it's any consolation, I could use a very good dose of 'perfection' - my loosy goosey style has pitfalls galore - so there is frustration on both sides of the fence I guess - congratulations on your Artful Blogging photo - somethings going right!

Jeane said...

ps - I really like this painting - it's strong in its simplicity...

Tracy said...

This post really hit a chord, Shayla... I can admit to the same secret/"problem". Though beads and fabrics are my mediums of choice currently, I experience many of the "symptoms" you are describing. These articles you link to I will definitely be reading and noting. I know there are many times when I've not dared myself enough due to perfectionism. We can be our own worst critics sometimes, and I can claim that myself. At the moment I am finding switching tactics and and using different supplies than usual a good way to overcome the quest for perfectionism. I think I just need to learn how to lower my own standards and still love the work--LOL! Thank you for this insightful look into something that is often lurking behind the scenes for many artists. Personally, I love the painting you share here--there is order here, but a touch of whismy, which is fun. The sepia tones are serene. I hope you find or redefine your relationship with your current mediums for a happier relationship all in all. And HUGE CONGRATS on your feature in Artful Blogging--well done! :o) Happy Days ((HUGS))

picciolo said...

I bet you feel better for admitting that! I spent years being too much of a perfectionist to the point that I didn't do anything, now I am getting better at jut going with it and seeing what happens
: )

Regina said...

Hi Shayla,
sorry you are feeling so frustrated. (I am too, but it's because I've been away from my paint for too long.)
I know that burden of perfectionism, too. I'm guessing the shift in mediums and that you've been mixing your own paints may be part of it. I know I treat things that are hardered to come by in a stingier way & then I tighten up because I don't want to make a mistake & waste supplies. Could something like that be adding to your tension?
I really like the colors & simplicity of this painting. The forms are simple, yet interesting.
By the way, I don't really agree with the Bach statement. I think it puts a lot of pressure on toward attaining perfection. Somewhere I read that each painting can teach us something. Don't keep trying to make the current painting perfect (and end up over-working it). Just do another and apply what you learned in the last one. This is how series are built. I plan to work more like that to help quiet that voice of perfectionism that would have be discouraged about my work.

Shayla said...

Robyn, yes I can't believe it. It's my favourite magazine and I never would have submitted anything if Creative Every Day hadn't asked for some images. As for the studio, things went better the past two days so this isn't as bad as before. Thanks for your support and the advice both times. I've kept the

Bridgette, I got a few chuckles out of that article too. I've done the paragraph alignment thing and I'm not even an ex-designer. Thanks for the generous feedback and what you said about motivation hit the nail on the head. I was dreading the studio for awhile, but you're right, I've learned a bit more this time around.

Jeane, thanks. That was an awakening. A perfectionist feels there's only one right way to make their painting, that's why I'm in awe of the freedom in your process. Makes sense that no matter how we do it, there will be some pitfalls.

Tracy, it's good that you've got the jewelry, sewing, knitting and cooking to bounce around to. That does help, doesn't it? I like what you said about lowering the standards to make it fun. Thanks for sharing your frustrations with perfectionism and also the warm encouragement. *Hugs and smiles back to you*

Jane, yes it did feel better. After publishing my post, I had a great studio day- to top it off, it was a great studio day with the oils!

Regina, yes you're right about the stinginess causing extra tension. It's not good to be low on paint. Good point about each painting not needing to be perfect. It's true that even the mistakes teach us something. I'm still getting used to that idea ;) I can't wait to see your new series. That sounds exciting.

Seth said...

Beautiful painting. I remember the shapes from your recent sketchbook post. Wonderful!

Mira said...

i completely understand. ive lost my aesthetic i feel in trying to paint what i think people want other than what im into.ive been pondering that alot lately.its the reason ive stopped painting for a bit, and lol, its funny u mention that, but ive crossed over into acrylics too,because of a lack of patience with oil.

hope u get ure mojo back.i'm working on mine.i'm thinking ski diving will force me to let go.we will see if i have the balls for it.

*mental hugs*

WildCherry said...

I love this painting Shayla and because of what you've written in your artist statement about the three squares I found myself really considering the relationship between them and the trees...I can't even remember what you said the three squares meant to you but I got a strong feeling about you trying to find meaning and order in the complexity of the natural world. Here it feels like you did it because your trees are ordered too...