Perfection smerfection

I have been really struggling with my artwork the last week or so, today’s banana drawing in all its unevenness, spills, mistakes and joy (see above) may actually be a break through for me- finally. I have fallen into a bad spell of perfectionism and it has frozen me creatively. This happens every once and a while, I get this great idea and instead of just doing it, I press to do it perfectly. Instead of just exploring the idea I drive and force a perfect expression of that idea. I think a lot of people fall into this trap and all you get out of it is frustration, procrastination, and a serious case of nihilistic “what’s the point”-ism. To save everyone, including me, the suspense, there is no such thing as perfect. In fact, if there were, it would be fucking boring.

My artistic mentor and guru Kirby once told me it is not the things we do perfectly in any piece of artwork that make it successful. And it is not the incidental and accidental “mistakes” in any piece of artwork that make it unsuccessful. It is the interplay of the accidental and the purposeful, the combined working of the subconscious, the conscious, and the over conscious in any piece that make it a unified expression, a piece of art that is more than the sum of its parts. Kirby was and is a wise man.

It is not just in the arts that this is relevant. It is this interchange and interplay, this chaotic mix of the circle and the square, the mess and the order that makes life what it is. The ability to appreciate it all at any given moment, in part and as a whole, is what creates a beautiful life experience. You can’t let the pursuit of perfection keep you from living, keep you from creating, keep you from trying, or keep you from loving.

Beauty without imperfection is not beauty at all.

Eric in a Word: conbobberation

Book of the Day: Outliers- Malcolm Gladwell

Song of the Day: Handel - Serse "Ombra mai fu" - Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson

Sketch Medium: graphite, ink, coffee, tea, highlighter, white out on watercolor paper


Michele said...

I needed to read this today, Eric. I've been struggling myself with perfectionism. It's actually a life-long struggle, born of a childhood spent with two alcoholic parents. For a few years, I was exploring my artistic side and was OK with art as process rather than perfect product. This was during my divorce when it was clear that I was very imperfect. But as I began to regain my emotional grip, I find that I went back to my perfectionistic ways, which have frozen me creatively. I haven't done a piece of art in a few years now because every time I sit down to do something, I'm reminded of how crappy my work is. Maybe I just need to shut myself up, huh?

Eric Giles said...

Thanks for the comment Michele! I think the pursuit of perfection has been the downfall of many any artist. Heck, Da Vinci's pursuit of the perfect medium, the perfect method of working, led to many of his works either never getting finished or decaying at an advanced rate. I am a big believer in telling my perfectionist self to take a seat whenever it rears its ugly head.