I like to call myself a “recovering perfectionist.”
Years ago I realized it was one of the reasons I wasn’t making art. My talent wasn’t matching my aspirations. Creating felt like a burden, not a blessing.
I combatted that by starting the practice of daily painting (or painting when design was slow) and allowing myself to make a lot of ugly art. I turned to Brene Brown’s work to sustain my efforts.
Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
It was freeing.
However, I’ve read some thoughts lately that have me thinking about perfection again.
A desire to excel or attain perfection is the inevitable result of creative effort. The competitive or idealizing spirit undoubtedly plays an important part in picturization.
Idealizing comes from the love of beauty and enjoyment in its translation, also the desire to translate and create a quality that will give the utmost degree of enjoyment to others. The love of beauty in nature and in creative work is instinctive and fundamental in each individual.Edgar Payne, Composition of Outdoor Painting
Could this perfectionism be God-given?
Could it be one of the reasons I still create?
What if it was something to embrace, instead of reject? And if so, how?
It had buried me before.
The idea of a flawless state is a static one. And it suggests that nothing can be improved upon. In that sense it feels a bit limited; it’s the end of the road. Being perfect may not be the real goal in the end, but becoming perfect is filled with the promise of always progressing. When I thought about perfection as a quest, I let go of the stress of expectations. Instead, I was filled with infinite inspiration. In my mind I placed the word PERFECT silently in front of every creation I attempted. When you no longer fear perfection, you set loftier goals and surprisingly accomplish more than you think you might. Creations break, they stall, there’s always a better version to be made. But few creations are ever great unless they first aspire to be perfect.Dominique Ansel, The Secret Recipes
What do you think?