When I was working on my undergrad I developed a habit of not finishing my paintings. I would get them just to the point that they were almost finished and then set them aside and work on something else. I didn't even realize that I was doing this, but one day it occurred to me that this was becoming a habit. When I considered my behavior with curiosity it became clear pretty quickly that this was a coping mechanism. I was afraid to finish and sign my paintings because then I could not longer respond to criticism with, "well, I'm still workin on this painting." It didn't really matter how sure I was that the painting was finished. It was a way of putting up armor before criticism could be made.
The reality was that this was preventing me from moving forward. I was constantly stuck with "unfinished" pieces. Luckily, I had deadlines for my classes and eventually had to get them finished for the semester. But what if I would have carried that behavior into my art career? I can't sell a bunch of unfinished paintings? I would have created a situation in which I was stuck. Perfectionism can cause you can get stuck in different stages of the process, including fear to get started at all.
Maybe you are dealing with perfectionism yourself, but you haven't identified it yet. These are a few of the ways perfectionism may manifest:
*Fear to get started
*Fear to finish
*Fear to share
*Fear of failure
*Defensiveness, inability to take any kind of feedback
*Self-induced stress and anxiety about your work
*Striving to live up to someone else's standards (often you don't even realize you are doing this)
If this is feeling familiar to you, how can you bring more kindness and compassion to yourself and your journey?
One place you can start is brining joy and gratitude to where you are on your artistic journey right now. You may be new to art or trying a new medium, style, or technique. You may be progressing and developing. Wherever you are know that this time and space is an important part of the journey as you develop your skills and style. It is easy to wan to skip over the beginning stages, and it can be frustrating when you have a vision for something, but don't have all the skills yet. But know, without a doubt, that where you are is invaluable. Each piece of art we make contains within the process innumerable lessons. We progress each time we work. Our brains synthesize information in new ways. We notice new things, we make connections, and observations. Each and every piece of art we create, no matter how much we like it is an immensely valuable part of our learning and progressing as an artist. Embrace imperfection, embrace learning, embrace the journey because I know if you keep it up you will look back and realize how valuable that time was to get you to where you are now.
For specific strategies to address perfectionism check out this resource for members.