It always seemed like my Achilles heel, it can become down right embarrassing if you constantly feel the need to match wits with everyone you meet.
But I've learned to turn it into a strength. I am so seriously determined to figure anything out that I no longer doubt that I really can do anything. Now I know that, is qualified by "within reason".
Okay okay I'm rambling. What the hell does this have to do with my art? Well it means that my desire to excel sometimes means that I don't know how to judge how well I am doing if it is not by comparison to someone or something else. That's probably why a few years ago when I decided to take up painting on a more regular basis my first choice was to copy a Degas.
I needed to feel like I had an assignment. Like I did in art school. Can you master the masters? Then you might be a good painter. Might. Because although you can copy a master, can you ever create a master work of your own?
Dark thoughts right? But I think every artist has this in them. Are you good enough?
To be let loose with no rules, quite frankly, terrifies me. So when a friend several months back asked me to paint something for her, I thought "What the hell would I paint?" I put it off. Others asked me to do something for them. I put them off too. Then it dawned on me. I seriously had a moment of clarity.
"This is my assignment!"
They give me guidelines, colors, general outline of subject matter. Then I paint! AAAHHHHH
Seriously made me so happy to realize this I could have cried, but I didn't. I bought supplies. Started mapping it out in my mind and began a quick study on a smaller canvas.
I just love the story about how Dr Seuss was dared to write a book with only 50 words and he did it. Green Eggs and Ham! And that book was my favorite!
Maybe we all need to feel challenged and pushed, by something outside of ourselves. Just attempting to create something with someone else's rules got me going. And soon I was working out other ideas that were nowhere near like the piece I started for my friend.
It's like as an artist you are constantly trying to break out of the prison of your mind. Every so often you see a weakness in the defenses and you run screaming through it.