07 February 2008

“Better than me” syndrome

It's "Too Hard"
We've all been inspired by other artists. It's part of the definition of being an artist - observing others. And who better to observe than someone who enjoys the same hobby/ career/ profession as you? However, doubt can get in the way of inspiration. While at first you may be extremely happy looking at someone's work and you can just feel that spark of creative energy flow within yourself, trying to emulate someone else can prove to be frustrating. Perhaps their skill level is above yours and you aspire to be like them, but in the course of trying, you discover how much unlike them that you are. It's very frustrating. You might even claim, "it's too hard". But hard is a relative term. What comes naturally or easily to one person might be an uphill struggle for some one else. But you know what? The person that struggled will find it a lot more satisfying when they get the results they want than the person who didn't have to try.

A Fear of Failure
Sometimes we're so scared of failing that we don't even want to start. This is where you doom yourself. Here's the thing: you will make mistakes and in the course of making these mistakes, you WILL fail at what you were trying to achieve. Ok, so maybe fail is a bit of a harsh word- but it is true. When first starting out, the grand ideas in your head will not come to fruition on paper, it's that simple. It will not happen at first. It's this realisation that you need to come to terms with. You need to tell yourself- It's OK to not be perfect. You CAN "mess up". And if you do mess up, you do not need to ball up the paper and toss it in the trash. Try having a sketchbook dedicated to just experimenting. It may not be the greatest work you own, in fact, it shouldn't be. But by dedicating yourself to a medium that allows you to make mistakes, then you're telling yourself it is ok to make them.

Don't Let a Fear of Failure Rule Your Artistic Experimentation
You can't let a fear of failure rule you. The best way to do this is to benchmark your progress against one person - yourself. When you do this, you have nothing to judge by except your previous mistakes. If you constantly view artist's works that are highly out of your skill level (and be honest about your skill level), then you ARE doomed to failure. There is a point in your career as an artist, whether the pursuit as a hobby or profession, where you can look at other artworks and not judge them against your own, but rather be inspired by that spark of creativity and go with it. First and foremost, you have to have your own identity as a unique artist. You have to get out there and not be afraid to challenge yourself against your old skill level. And most of all, you have to be brave enough to realise that you have to make mistakes in order to get better.

Use Your Mistakes to Drive Your Technical Expertise

Everything you know know is because you learned it at some point in your life. You were born knowing nothing. Some things you may have picked up more quickly than others, but you did learn everything you now know by making mistakes. You didn't just stand up one day as a baby and start trudging across the room with perfect balance. How could you? You had no proper leg muscles. A part of learning anything is about training the "muscles". You can't be too frustrated at yourself for not knowing how to do something if you've never tried it before. And more than that, you can't be expected to know how to do it perfectly the first time. Drawing is no different. You have to flex your drawing "muscles", which consist of the way you see and even the technical expertise of laying pen to paper or learning a digital painting program. You have to train your eyes to see "correctly", not just interpret the objects around you as learned shapes (ie: triangle for nose, almonds for eyes). Once you have trained your drawing muscles well enough, you can use your mistakes to your advantage. What do I mean by this? Well, by experimenting, you open your mind up to doing things you wouldn't normally do. When you do this, sometimes a perceived mistake from one drawing can be used and honed as a skill in in another. One example is if you are practising hatching and the lines aren't perfectly spaced. You may feel this is a mistake at first, but later come to realise, it's a good way to indicate a gradient going from light to dark. Many good things come from experimenting- just don't be too afraid to try!

What techniques have you tried lately? Have any of your mistakes turned into masterpieces?

1 comment:

  1. I found your site on google blog search and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. Just added your RSS feed to my feed reader. Look forward to reading more from you.

    - Randy Nichols.