Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Internal Critic: Good or Evil?

It has been a crazy two months for me. April was filled with getting my studio ready for open studios, making sure I had enough paintings for at least three shows, then having open studios which lasted for three days, my first group show at Artzone 461 Gallery, showing my work at Yuri's Night at the NASA center, and then shipping a ton of paintings to other galleries. May wasn't as hectic but I did paint 18 new paintings and got them ready to ship to Ampersand Vintage Gallery in Portland for a show there. That was a feat in itself and I am pleasantly surprised and shocked that I was able to pull it off. Oh, and did I mention that I have a fulltime day job too?

I still technically have 8 more days to paint and get my paintings ready to ship for the Portland show but I am taking my time now that I know I have enough work and have taken a few days off from going in to the studio. In fact, I have only been in once in the last 5 days. I should be enjoying these days off but I can't help but feel a bit guilty about not going in everyday. I have enough work. The show will look good. So why can't I be okay with that and not feel like I should do more? Paint more? Paint better paintings? Why does the internal perfectionist in me feel like I haven't done enough yet?

I have always been an ambitious person and somewhat of a perfectionist. I have learned over the years to let certain things go and to be okay with less than perfect results, except when it comes to my artwork. When I finish a painting, I can't help but think that there's more I could have done or that I could have done a better job. It's not that I am insecure about what I do or I am dissatisfied. I just think there is always more that could be done. But when will it become enough?

We learn somewhere along the line, whether through art school or from other artists, that the best artists are the ones that know when to stop. They know how to NOT overwork a painting. They know when to walk away and call a painting done. So have I learned that lesson? Is the nagging feeling inside of me telling me I could do more on a painting or in a series there because I haven't learned as an artist when to stop and call a painting done? Or is that voice really what it takes to become a good artist that continually improves, strives for more, and doesn't become complacent? We've all seen artists who find their niche and continually paint the same thing because that is what they are good at or that is what sells. Is this voice in my head really a good thing that will keep from being stagnant and doing just that?  It can be exhausting to feel like there is always something better that you can create, but I think as long as it's kept in check, it can be a good thing. As long as an artist can see the good that has already been created and appreciate/ acknowledge growth, continual thirst for improvement and knowledge can be a good thing. The important thing is to know when to listen to that internal critic and when to shut it off. Maybe that is the true definition of a good artist: someone who knows the difference between when to listen to that critical voice inside your head and when not to.

Images: As of yet untitled paintings, waiting to be waxed. Both are 12" x 12".


  1. The first should be titled "Girl I Want", and the second "Girl for My Wingman"

  2. Striving for excellence is inspiring, striving for perfection is demoralizing.