I am not talented like other people.
My parents were artists and my daughter is a brilliant artist. I just don’t have the confidence in myself.
I know I am a new artist, but I constantly compare myself to other artists. I then get depressed when working on a painting and leave it unfinished.
These are just some of the concerns expressed by my Tribe of Lovelies when asked what blocked their creativity. The common theme here is comparison to others.
My father was an artist, although he would never call himself that (a story for another day). He did beautiful watercolour and oil landscapes. He also had many artist friends, all of whom painted landscapes and architecture. Since I grew up with this, it informed my definition of talent.
Over the years I have tried drawing buildings and landscapes, but could never pull off the correct perspective. Well durr! I am the person who always picks the wrong size container to put the leftovers in. I cannot back up a car into a parking space for love nor money. I cannot play tennis because the racket never connects with the ball. All this to say, my spatial ability sucks … big time!
This meant for the longest time, I deemed myself devoid of artistic talent, because artistic talent meant painting houses that looked safe to live in and seascapes that flowed into the distant horizon.
Interestingly, I grew up on Dr. Seuss books. His houses were decidedly not drawn to building code, and swimming in one of his oceans could lead to falling off the edge of the world. Dr. Seuss, however, was not a ‘real’ artist. He was a children’s book illustrator. Dumb, I know. Of course he was an artist and, thankfully, one who clearly did not compare himself to others.
For the past three years I have been drawing or painting every single day. For the first two and a half of those years, I have been comparing myself to other artists. I knew better than to go with architecture and landscapes, so my attempts went like this:
- Let’s try doing intuitive painting. Wow, Flora Bowley’s and Belinda Fireman’s intuitive paintings are incredible. Mine suck.
- Let’s try doing whimsical faces. Jane Davenport’s and Effy Wild’s whimsical faces are gorgeous. Mine suck.
- Okay, let’s go with Zentangles. I can do Zentangles. Oh my goodness! Have you seen Eni Oken’s tangles? Mine suck.
- Abstract. Surely I can do abstract. ARGH! Michael Lang’s paintings are out of this world. Mine suck.
But Eliza, your artwork does not suck!
Are you starting to see the ridiculousness of comparing ourselves to others? I finally did and that is when my Unusual Faeries showed up.
They do not look like Flora’s or Belinda’s intuitive paintings, but I use my intuition. They do not have pretty whimsical faces like Jane’s and Effy’s girls, but they are definitely whimsical. They are not detailed Zentangles like Eni’s, but they are certainly Zentangle inspired. My paintings do not have the depth of Michael’s abstracts, but I always start by building up random layers of colour and shapes.
My illustrations and paintings do not look like a Flora, Belinda, Jane, Effy, Eni or Michael. They come from my imagination and my creativity, and they aren’t meant to look like someone else’s work.
My artwork is pure Eliza. It is unique, and isn’t that what creativity is? Unique to the individual who expressed it?
Take it from me, comparison brings about a completely unnecessary death to your creativity. When you stop focusing on other people’s art, you breathe life into your own.
Embrace your creative flow, my Lovelies!