For a long time I was a perfectionist, in fact I still consider myself a recovering perfectionist, so when I started putting my art out in the world to see, I hardly showed my art to anyone — even though I had been painting for over ten years!!
Do you stop yourself from creating because you are terrified you will make a mistake?
When you’re creating, one of the hardest things to wrap your head around is the art of letting go of your own expectations.
I’ve heard from my students that there are three times they feel the most stuck on their creations:
- While it’s still a blank canvas.
- In the middle, when it isn’t looking how you envisioned it
- At the end, when it’s unclear how to complete the painting
If you find yourself stuck at one of these stages, here are a few ways to move forward and eliminate the fear of making mistakes in art.
1. While it’s still a blank canvas.
Prepare to start. Close your eyes and visualise how you want to feel while you are painting. Open your eyes and choose the colour that embodies how you want to feel. If you don’t know what colour matches your feeling, choose the colour you are drawn to. Don’t over think, just choose a colour.
Be bold, close your eyes and paint a stoke on the canvas, open your eyes and keep painting. Put your brush to the canvas, and move your brush. Don’t think about what you are painting, it doesn’t have to look like anything in particular and that’s good!!
Remember that you can always change and paint over areas you don’t like. Paint in thin layers at the beginning, it will dry faster.
Let go of judging your painting at this stage.
2. In the middle, when it isn’t looking how you envisioned it.
The middle can be the most awkward stage of a painting. It’s often filled with areas that you love and also those areas that are frustrating or you just plain hate.
This is what I love most about working with oil paints, you can always paint over sections you don’t like! Look at the areas you like and observe why they make you happy. Do you like your colour combinations, the texture, the way two or three colours blend together or the stroke (the direction you painted in). Observing your paintings will help your future paintings too.
Take one or two elements and start painting over the areas you dislike. Feel free to leave the areas that you like. Remember to breathe, and let go of any judgement of your art.
3. At the end, when it’s unclear how to complete the painting
I teach in my online Intuitive Painting Course how to develop a “knowing within yourself” to help learn how to know when a painting (or other creative work) is complete. Here is a quick way to get started with learning your “knowing”.
Go look at your painting, if possible lie down on the floor or you can sit. Close your eyes. Visualise your painting, and notice how you feel when you are thinking about it. If you are feeling calm, peaceful and comfortable your piece is complete!
If you have a niggle in your gut, you are tense or tight, then there is likely something else that needs to be added to your painting. Open your eyes and scan your painting and you will be drawn to the area that you want to work on.
When you go back to work to work on your painting, remember to breathe! A few deep breaths releases a lot of tension in your body and allows you to relax. Art is always way more fun when you are relaxed.
If you still don’t know if your painting is finished, leave it for a day or so and come back to it. Remember that art does not have to be perfect, it just needs to feel complete. Click To Tweet