Marisa D. Aceves. Untitled. digital photography http://www.acevesart.com/
article by Marisa D. Aceves
At some point in our lives, many of us know instinctively, that we are called to be artists.
In the beginning, we pour over art magazines, sketch or doodle in our spare time, snap photos of eager relatives, build alien cities with legos, and dance and sing to our favorite music; everything seems possible in the wonderful world of fantasy that we create for ourselves.
Then we collectively come to our senses and realize that we have to learn a specific set of skills to truly be able to express ourselves the way we had originally intended.
The ongoing process of learning is never easy, it’s often an ego crusher.
We stumble, crash and burn as we try to emulate the work of our favorite artists.
Other people laugh and point at our efforts, trying to discourage us from pursuing our creative passions.
No matter what we do, we feel we just can’t seem to measure up and yet we are to darn stubborn to give up our dreams; we will continue even if we have to walk with our heads held low as we soon learn to adopt the title that best suites our level of ability -student.
Everyone wants to be called teacher. No one wants to be called student,pupil etc., but that is exactly what we are at different periods in our lives.
As we push through several how to articles, academia, and instructional videos, we constantly fight our impulse to give in to a perfectionistic view of our work.
We constantly compare our work to the work of people that have had years of training and experience.
We don’t want to hate our work or to feel ashamed of what we can currently produce, but when we see the obvious discrepancies between our work and theirs, we can harbor unnecessary feelings of doubt, insecurity and shame.
At the very least, we can dwell in our feelings of inferiority, which may lead to an uncomfortable state of melancholy, at the worst we can lose altoghether the joy initially associated with creating art.
Much of our art based anxiety stems from unrealistic expectations about ourselves and our art.
We wrongly equate our performance with our self-worth; once we do that we set ourselves up for self-sabotage.
Before you give up and give in to unrealistic expectations, try to keep these helpful tips in mind:
1) Concentrate On Learning Not Judging – As you begin to learn a variety of skills and techniques associated with your medium, you are bound to run into problems. Don’t let this discourage you. Some things will be easier for your to master, others more difficult. This is the case for almost every artist and has absolutely nothing to do with your value as a person. Instead of judging your work because of the difficulties that you may be having, try to concentrate on learning and improving the skills that you are required to have to succeed.
2) Use Comparisons For Growth Not Personal Putdowns – It is easy to compare your work to the work of others with years of experience and then put yourself down because you fail to create work that is the same quality or reflective of a similar skill level.
If your must compare your work to the work of other artists, do so for growth not because you wish to be them or somehow inherit their abilities through osmosis. Study their strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps there are books or other art related instruction that can help you pick up the skills that you need. Check our where they got their education. Did they go through a special training program?
3) Let Go of The Fear of What Others Will Think of Your Work As You Learn – Sure, your friends, family and collegues can mock your personal artistic struggle as you try to grasp difficult to master skills and concepts, but do they have the courage to attempt the journey that you have presently embarked on. No, many of them do not. Most of the time, they wish that they could brave the uncertainty of the world of creativity, but they are to concerned with what others would think, so they do not even dare to attempt it. Sometimes, you will find that you are your biggest critic. You marinate in what others tell you that you are to believe about your skill level and abilities and then you proceed to criticize yourself. Instead, focus on the fact that you are gradually trying to improve you knowledge and skills so that you can create your best art.
Eventually, you can learn to give yourself permission to be perfectly human.
Human artists like you and I make mistakes as we learn to create, but this does not take away from our overwhelming desire to share with other people the joys and rewards of being artists and appreciating art.
While unrealistic expectations can put a damper on learning and productivity, we can face them with the understanding that like other problems we encounter, there are always solutions.