Today I was looking through my organizers to get rid of anything I didn’t need any more. I came across some paintings I’d done about three or four years ago. First, I got so tickled that I laughed and almost felt sorry for myself. But, then I noticed how far I’d come and the strides I’ve made since then. I will honor those past paintings that were not so great, because they were my beginning and my personal struggle on my artistic path to being the artists I wanted to be.
When I was learning how to do a certain style of lettering/calligraphy I remembered what my mentor and Master Penman told me. He said “Sue, always keep the work you’ve done. One day you need to look back on them.
"You will then realize that they will be your greatest source of encouragement. They will show you just how far you’ve come and the hard work you’ve put forth to get where you are at the current moment.” He was so right.
Just as mistakes can be our greatest teacher, so can our past works. It’s fun to look back on them. I remember when I first started lettering, and also painting, I thought I’d done a pretty decent job. Now, I look at them and I’m embarrassed that I even showed them to anyone.
We all had to start somewhere and I don’t know anyone who started out doing beautiful work without first making lots of mistakes along their way. Heaven knows I’ve made plenty of my own mistakes and I still am. And that’s OK, because I’m still a student of art and I am the teacher. I’m exactly where I should be at this moment…mistakes and all.
Don’t get discouraged when you can’t get something just right. Simply look at some of the paintings (or other genres of art) and see how far you’ve come. That should make you feel much better. Life isn’t mistake proof and neither is art. Besides, it’s more interesting and amusing to make mistakes along the way. We learn from them and appreciate them because they’ve made us better artists.
So take some time to look back. Then you can smile, shake your head and appreciate all your past efforts. After all, they’ve led you down the path to where you are right now.
Go forward, keep learning and don’t forget to look back now and then.