We all have flaws, whether we want to admit them or not. Some of us become very good and dancing around those holes in our skills or characters. We might even be fleet-footed enough to turn that dancing into something pretty spectacular. Real growth, however, comes when we confront our flaws and deal with them. Becoming confident and sure while we stride over the holes we filled in. While this general principle can apply to life as a rule, it can be very specifically and pointedly applied to art. Here’s how…
See, most of us remember doodling eyes or hair, spirals or branches in the corners of our school assignments. I was no exception. In the entirety of my art career, I have had one formal lesson. That was it. The rest of it has been autodidactism of the highest order. In one of a recently-used source, however, some weirdly specific artistic advice has made me come face-to-face with many of my flaws.
Most people with a pencil can draw a pretty-ish-looking eye. Ask them to draw the other eye just as well, though, and they’ll look at you like you’re asking for the moon. Then ask them to draw a pair of hands and they may start crying. These artists are used to drawing long bangs to cover that awkward eye or tucking those pesky appendages behind the torso so they just aren’t so bothersome. This isn’t good art – it’s good avoiding. Being told to stylize to cover for underdeveloped skills is not good art: it’s good compensating. This fear of my art flaws was something I had never even recognized (let alone confronted) until I tried to do my 14-day challenge this spring.
That was me as I began shoveling in the hours required to fill the gap between ‘hey, you’re pretty good’ and ‘wow, how do you even think of something so incredible?’. (Still working on that last part.)
“Being persistent means you get it. Being consistent means you keep it.”
That quote popped into my Pinterest feed the other day. Yep, it’s true. I set out on a journey to improve my art, and I got so much better than I ever thought I would. At the same time, I realized how many more things I need to improve, streamline, or alter to become an even better artist: faster, cleaner, and more original. Art is an endless frontier of discovery, a screaming ascent from the chaos that just keeps rising and rising and rising.
While many artists get defensive about their deficiencies and throw the word ‘style’ in the face of criticism, I don’t want to. I want substance exhibited with extraordinary style – I don’t want my style covering for a substance that I just don’t have.
This post is me being vulnerable. I don’t like exactly how each of these turned out, and the longer I work on my art, the more basic they’ll seem to me. But I am in this for the long haul, I’m in this to get really good, and these are milestones along that road… and they show just how far I’ve come in the last 12 months.
From the one on the left all the way to the one on the right. The one on the right isn’t a fluke, either. Erase half that canvas, and I can paint it back just as well if not better.
This is what can happen when you confront your artistic flaws. Just imagine what you could achieve if you apply the same principle to the rest of life.