Perfectionism In Art: 3 Ways It’s Stopping You From Creating

by Jessica
This post is sponsored by Creativ Company. 
Few things are as limiting as perfectionism. Many times, perfectionism can stop you from getting what you want and to where you want, and especially within the creative field. Striving for perfection is rarely a very productive thing, and I think almost devastating when it comes to art (especially since there is no such thing as perfect art).
Perfectionism In Art: 3 Tricks to Help You Be Less of a PerfectionistI thought I had freed myself from perfectionism, but when I started experimenting with a technique completely new to me – painting abstractly with acrylics – I really struggled. I’m not through it yet, but I thought I’d share a few tips that I think have helped and that have been important to me during this process. 
If you want to try painting abstractly with acrylics you can purchase your materials on Creativ Company’s website
Perfectionism In Art: 3 Ways It's Stopping You From Creating
I really had to stop and remind myself that “done is better than perfect” so many times. Acrylics are tricky in that way, as it’s possible to just paint over things for eternity if you don’t stop yourself. Which is what I did. I spent hours upon hours on painting and never came up with anything even remotely “finished” because I kept starting over. The piece above took the longest, and it’s the one I hate the most out of the ones in this post. I don’t know what it is, I’m just so unhappy with it. But I’m showing it anyway, because it’s part of my journey to defying perfectionism.
So here follows three ways your perfectionism might be stopping you from creating, and a few tips for strategies to push through it!

1. You never finish anything

This was a real struggle for me, as it took so long until I started finishing pieces, because it wasn’t until I realised that I wasn’t actually learning very much from just starting pieces and then painting over everything in the middle of the process because it wasn’t good enough. I’ve heard other painters talking about how there is that really shitty part of the process where it just looks bad, and if you never push through that you’ll never learn the parts of the process that are one the other side – the parts that actually result in a piece that might look like you want to.
Like it’s okay to start over if things have gone really wrong, but in the learning phase I think it’s important to try to make something that you could at least kind of call “finished”, even if you hate it. Then you can move on, start a new piece and use what you’ve learned in that one. And you’ll also probably feel more accomplished even though you didn’t like what you created. At least you created something. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with not finishing a piece, but you are missing out on a lot of learning opportunities.


Here’s what you can do:
  • Leave the piece for a while and return to it later with a fresh set of eyes. Maybe you’ll feel different in a few hours, days or maybe even weeks.
  • Push yourself to keep working on it for five more minutes. You’ll survive five more minutes, and if you haven’t made progress at all in that time, it might be okay to paint over, or maybe save it for another time.
  • Bring out a lot of small canvases or papers, and set a time limit on how long you can work on a piece, and when that time is up it is done and you move on to the next one. That way you can take some pressure of yourself, as you can’t work too much on details when you’re working with very little time. This is what we did when I did croquis and it was really freeing.

Perfectionism In Art: 3 Ways It's Stopping You From Creating

2. You’re not even starting

If you time and time again find yourself in the situation where you kind of feel like you want to start a creative project but you stop yourself before you’ve even tried because you wont be able to create in the way you want anyway, I think it’s safe to say that perfectionism is stopping you from growing in a quite massive way. The truth is, you aren’t going to grow if you never practice, but it’s easier said than done to just ignore these emotions and do it anyway.


Here’s what you can do:
  • Start with a playful exercise. There are a bunch of them to be found online, but I’d salso say that the book Creative Block by Danielle Krysa is a great resource. It has so many exercises that the artists she has interviewed in the book use themselves to get unstuck.
  • The thing with timing yourself and not spending more than like 5 minutes on each piece is a good way to, as you’ll work quickly and not be too precious about what you do.

Perfectionism In Art: 3 Ways It's Stopping You From Creating

3. You keep second-guessing everything you do

It’s the curse of the eraser, or the simple undo button. It gives you the opportunity to undo any mistakes, but it also gives you the opportunity to second-guess EVERYTHING. This is really closely related to not finishing anything, to be honest, but it’s a little bit different. It is possible to finish something even if you have second-guessed every single step. Sometimes to learn, to be productive and most of all enjoy the creative process, you need to just go with the flow a little. This is easier said than done, especially if you’re just starting out or feel really insecure with everything you’re making.


Here’s what you can do:
  • Use pen instead of pencil, leave your eraser at home or use some other kind of way of creating where you can’t change your mind. RIP AWAY THE CTRL AND Z FROM YOUR COMPUTER.
  • DO THE TIME TRICK. Okay that’s basically my main trick for all of this, but honestly, if you have 30 seconds to sketch something, you won’t be erasing!

To sum it up

Sometimes you need limitations to truly feel free!!! Okay, that might be taking it too far, but if you notice that you’re second-guessing yourself, erasing everything or not even starting – try to do something that doesn’t allow you to be so precious about what you’re creating. Give yourself time to grow and learn, and try not to put too much pressure on yourself.

Also don’t forget to be your own cheerleader. You’re great!! Lumos thinks so too, he told me. 

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