I bet you’re looking at the title of this post right now, thinking, ‘Isn’t that obvious?’
As artists, sometimes we get locked in this cycle of ‘It has to be perfect. It has to be my best work ever, otherwise I can’t share it with anyone.’
While striving for excellence and refusing to settle on something mediocre isn’t bad (see my last Art Tip), sometimes focusing too much on getting it perfect can rob us of the joy of creating.
This happens to me all the time. When I was a child, I drew with free abandon. I was always creating art, because I loved it. Because it was fun.
But then I got older.
And all of a sudden, I was worried about it not being perfect. About fiddling with it make it just right. And making art started taking longer. And being less fun.
It almost felt like a chore.
I still struggle with this every time I sit down to create art. I want it to be so beautiful, so perfect, that I get frustrated when it doesn’t look right (and at this point, it’s probably only half-done) and give up, leaving myself with a bunch of half-finished illustrations.
The really frustrating thing is, I know that if I pushed through it and kept working on it for hours more, it would eventually be beautiful. Stunning.
But I don’t want to, because it seems like so much work. Work I’m having to drag myself to do, because it seems endless. Painful.
One day, when I’d just got my new iPad, I was testing its drawing capabilities and created the picture at the top of this post, in less than thirty minutes, I believe.
It isn’t the best work I’ve ever done. It’s certainly not perfect.
But I had fun.
Because I wasn’t worried about perfectionism, or stressing about whether things were just so, I had fun. I threw a bunch of different bokeh light brushes on the canvas, basically playing with light and lighting effects.
For fun, because of the background I’d created, I decided to draw a manga version of how I imagine Syl from Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. I labelled the drawing ‘Into the Cognitive Realm,’ which any of you who have read the series (and it’s amazing series if you’re an adult or older teen who loves fantasy!) will know was an event in Book 3, Oathbringer.
My drawing of Syl isn’t perfect. But it captures, to me, her playful essence in a rather sketchy style. And it works, seeing as how she’s a Spren and all. And the whole thing took me maybe just over half and hour — far less time than my regular illustrations.
For all that, it actually looks pretty good — not perfect, but good. Loose. Sketchy. Kinda whimsical — which really works for this picture.
And I had fun!
In Conclusion …
Next time you’re stressing about getting everything perfect, or agonising because of some small mistake, remember this:
It’s okay to just have fun.
It’s all right to relax and create something for the fun of it. Not everything has to be at a ridiculously high standard. And when you do create more professional-quality illustrations, or drawings that you need to hold to a high standard, remember to have fun with those, too. It’s okay to experiment, to try new things. And I need to remind myself this, too. I still struggle every day with perfectionism.
But when I let myself remember to have fun, to relax, to experiment, sometimes the result for that picture is more beautiful than if I’d been rigid about it. The same may be true for you if you choose to try an art piece ‘just for fun.’
Even if it isn’t, at least you enjoyed it!
Your turn, Storykeepers! What was the last art piece you did where you allowed yourself to let go of perfectionism and just have fun? Let me know in the comments!