The Tyranny of Perfection

The Tyranny of Perfection

Perfectionists know exactly what they are going to paint and how they are going to paint it.  They tend to see the finished painting before they start.  Perfectionists need to feel in control at all times.  Obsessed by details and visual accuracy, they have mastered techniques.  Perfectionists speak with authority and love to analyze using their unshakable logic.  Listening to them can be both impressive and intimidating.  Indeed their skills get often rewarded by praise.

I too am a great believer of techniques and skills.  As I said in previous blogs an artist painter needs to practice the art of drawing with accuracy; for this is the foundation of many art forms, even if your voice takes you on the path of abstraction.

Yet, unless you want to be a tight painter governed by logic and reason which is a choice, you may want to practice the art of letting go and taking risks.  You may not get the results you wish right away, but in the long run you will paint with greater passion.

The following suggestions are easy steps to encourage you to loosen up and paint with greater freedom:

–         Come organized.  By all means, be a perfectionist with regard to your supplies and materials.  It will save you time and frustration.

–         Have your personal ritualistic routine when setting up.  It is calming.

–         Play music that inspires you or that energizes you.  Awaken your senses!

–         Don’t outline your composition on the canvas.  It will confine you.  If you feel the need for an outline do so in your sketch book.

–         Do a practice warm up painting on a small canvas before you start your actual painting.

–         Tone your canvas.  A big white and blank canvas is intimidating.

–         Once you started take regular breaks.

–         Don’t allow others to make unsolicited comments.

–         Don’t be discouraged when the process is not going your way; tell yourself it is only paint, mistakes can be corrected.

–         Welcome surprises and experiment.

Remember perfectionism is an obstacle to the creative process of discovery and interpretation.


“Why should an artist persist in treating subjects that can be established so clearly with the lens of a camera?”  Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973.

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