So often in art there is this prevailing theory that an artist must be seen as “professional”, meaning that they only ever show their absolute perfected artworks. I guess it stems from the need to sell oneself as an artist as much as the art itself; the need to always show your best side and never-ever to be seen as anything less than perfect. After all, who wants to invest in a faulty product?
But is that image really what we are willing to settle ourselves to? This image of absolute perfection. Behind that glorious shiny exterior many of us have numerous faults and flaws. We sweat, toil, bleed and cry over our artworks. Not just the pieces that we reveal in exhibitions, but the countless pages upon pages of practice sheets as we aim to improve a skill, or the many pages of sketches to prepare an artwork’s composition and design.
So I ask you; what kind of art do you share with others?
Everyone can answer that question. Perhaps you don’t share your art with anyone, or perhaps only with your pet. It could be that you show your family, but not the strangers on the internet – or vice versa. In so many cases we show the best pieces that we have created – the results of hours or days of toiling and labour. This is often to avoid the backlash of criticism (even though sometimes it may be helpful).
I ask myself; what kind of art do I share with others?
I don’t want to be perfect. In fact, in one part of my life I gave myself depression due to an overwhelming desire – and perhaps obsession – to seem perfect to those around me. I hid everything I wasn’t happy with, ashamed that it wasn’t reaching impossible standards. And we all know just how often we fully approve of ourselves.
During and since recovery I have learnt to celebrate those little flaws of mine. Just like how so many artists like to include the bug-nibbled or browning section on a leaf when they paint it, and not a pristine and shiny leaf – it gives more character and realism to a piece.
So what kind of art do I share? I am choosing to share both the perfect and the flawed. Of course I want to show my best work on the Portfolio – the point is to highlight my skills and accomplishments. However my art journal at home is filled with both successful, unsuccessful and sometimes abandoned pieces of works. I don’t necessarily keep all these projects either; often pieces I am unhappy with get crumbled up in the trash. But I may have still learnt from the experience, and so may you.
I am choosing to share both my successful and unsuccessful projects on my online art journal. You can read updates on what I have worked on, how I came to creating a particular art work and my thought processes behind them, and the various exercises I have attempted to learn and practice skills. I may even review some products or just write some notes to myself. All with the theory that in a few years from now I will look back at these posts and see how far I have come – a record of just some of my hard work. And perhaps then, one day, a student to the field who is feeling overwhelmed might be inspired to not look perfect, but to know that they already are.