Sharon Teal Coray
Here is the question of the day…how on earth do I maintain a positive attitude toward my creative self when I make mistakes?
Why do we think we can do something perfectly and when we don’t we are the first to criticize ourselves ruthlessly for deviations from our standards. All of us make mistakes and when we do why do they make us feel worthless?
Maybe we need to remember how our parents treated us when we made mistakes. Did our parents have sensible standards of performance? Were they forgiving of our misdeeds?
Where they very strict with their standards or were they very lax. Either way it can create a child who is anxious about any small change in their life therefore this fear and anxious feeling constricts the spontaneity and ability to take risks, as we get older.
Can you look back at your life as an artist and remember one particular time that you made a big mistake? I remember a student of mine that was extremely hard on herself.
She just came undone every time she made a mistake. She was so critical of herself saying how dumb she was and how stupid of her to make this mistake…by the time she stopped condemning herself she had lost all the creative power she had and would just sit there in class messing around.
If you allow this inner talk and call yourself names for making a mistake while painting you may end up feeling depressed and dejected for the rest of the day.
Your inner critic is operating hurtfully and has gone underground. As a result you feel miserable!
I remember a big mistake I made years ago, I wanted to paint a scene of hot air balloons, so we drove up to Park City early in the morning because they were having a big hot air balloon festival. As we were driving to the area that they were supposed to be I looked up and right before us were three large balloons coming down. I jumped out of the car and snapped picture after picture getting such great photos and being right there by them was a real thrill. I never expected to be that close!
I felt so excited and I knew I had some great reference photos to paint from. When I got home and opened the camera to get the film, I found I forgot to put film into the camera! Wow what a let down! Did I beat myself up for this? Well…. for a few minutes anyway but what was the point? Why not just forgive myself for being human and go on? Eventually my family and I had a great laugh about this!
I urged my students to look at their mistakes as learning opportunities, which in reality they are. If you are afraid of making a mistake you will never have the opportunity to learn anything new.
So to answer the question here are some tips I have used that have helped me.
1. Forgive..Forgive…Forgive.. Yes please forgive yourself for not being perfect! No one is!
2. Accept that fact…you are not perfect!
3. Remember that some mistakes can be incorporated into your final composition.
4. Remember that it is only paint and you can usually remove it or re-do it. It is not the end of the world.
5. Remember that many of the old masters have re-worked their masterpieces so many times and by x-ray this has been proven.
6. All of us make mistakes, so be kind to you!
7. Would you talk to a friend the way you talk to yourself?
8. Give yourself permission to fail…ok so you didn’t do the best work, so what! Move on!
9. Lastly please let your inner voice be positive…it is hard for some of us I know, but when you catch your thoughts of negativity creeping in just stop what you are doing and say to yourself, I am not perfect, and I do make mistakes but I also do some great things and concentrate on them! Start mentally listing them and eventually your inner critic will shut up!