Critique session from one of my most recent summer 3-day workshops. © 2017 David Limrite
“I work all over the canvas at a time: the first step all over, the second step all over and so on; at the end, there is often a series of tiny steps.”
Robert Motherwell, Artist
A good artist and good friend of mine asked if I would take on this topic. Thanks, A. Here ya go.
Do you ever question the quality of the work you create? Do you sometimes doubt your ability to create what you envision in your head? After you have created something, do you worry that it is not good enough?
Well… you are a creative type, yes? Unfortunately we creative types question ourselves and our creations. It’s what we do. We overthink. We judge. We overanalyze. We second guess. We are overly critical.
In fact, we are our own worst critic.
And unfortunately, we spend a huge chunk of time and a boatload of energy on this self-destructive thinking when, instead, we should be spending that time and exerting that energy on creating and making stuff.
Sometimes we finish making something and start questioning it right away. Sometimes it takes getting the painting out of our studio and seeing it on a gallery wall or hanging in a home before we become consumed with fear that maybe we have missed the mark.
For me, it usually takes living with the piece for a couple of years before I really begin to question the validity of what I have created.
We all do this. It is just part of being an artist. Here is what helps me:
1. I work as often as I can and make as much stuff as I can. Action Quiets Fear. The more work I make the better I get. The less precious each piece is the more confidence I build, the less worrying I do, and the more fun I have.
2. I take as many risks as I can as often as I can. Insecurity can rear its ugly little head when you are taking risks, but taking risks is essential to an artists growth. Risks Are Risky. You have to find a way to take risks and create anyway knowing that insecurity and lack of confidence will be there right next to you. Step outside of your comfort zone and break boundaries as often as you can. If you can do this, it will get easier. Have the courage to try and have the courage to fail. Both are essential. Failure invites meaningful growth.
3. Focus on process not product. Detach from the outcome. Focus on the making of the piece. Focus on other things besides the actual thing you are depicting, such as: gesture, emotion, movement, drama, or on the formal aspects of creativity such as: color, texture, line or value contrast. My finished pieces are always so much better when I can do this. I cannot lie, this can be difficult. But so worthwhile.
4. Don’t finish a piece in your head. Physically create, don’t mentally create. Just know that the actual finished piece will never, ever look like what you envisioned in your mind.
5. Do not put pressure on yourself to have to create something that you have never seen before or that you think has never been done before. Create work that you have never created before. Make your own stuff. Create what is in you. Create what you were meant to create.
6. Don’t focus on creating “finished work”. Our work is never finished. It just stops in interesting places...or because of a deadline, or because of fatigue, boredom or uncertainty about what to do next. Just create. Don’t create to finish.
7. Lastly, don’t ever feel as if you have to explain your work to anybody. Your work will find its appreciative and understanding audience. Also, don’t ever apologize for what you create. Ever. You create what you create.
The only way I know how to create good, or even great work, is by making stuff. A lot of stuff.
[NEW ATASCADERO WORKSHOPS]
INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED MIXED MEDIA FIGURE DRAWING & PAINTING WORKSHOPS
One Day Each: Saturday, December 2 | Friday, January 26 | Saturday, January 27
10am - 4pm
Come take the first workshops I am offering in my Atascadero Studio.
SEE DAVID PAINT LIVE!
Art After Dark: Phantom 7 Pop-Up Exhibit
959 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo, CA | Friday, September 1 | 6 - 9 pm
The Central Coast Sculptors Group is hosting a Live Paint featuring Yours Truly. I will paint "LIVE" in the alcove outside of the Phantom Pop-Up Gallery. Come watch, learn and ask questions while I create an original mixed media, abstract, figurative piece using charcoal, collage and acrylic.