"Does anyone worry about not being excellent?"
I came across the question tonight on an online art forum. It's a question that generally comes up for people who make art, at some point, usually earlier on, maybe a few years into really working at it, and it's a worry that can be devastating.
Many understanding artists (because, yes, we've all had to deal with this) responded with encouragement and great advice.
Here's a slightly edited excerpt of what I wrote....
The tricky thing is to get out of judgement-mode (or critical-mode). It does NOT help you. Your inner critic will chip away and chip away until you stop drawing and painting altogether, because you find yourself in the middle of a creative block. (Ask me how I know.)
So, in order to keep making art, you have to learn how to get out of critical-mode.
When I was in school, my art teachers would say, "You have to do a thousand bad drawings before you can expect to do one good one." The wonderful thing about this was that it got us working, and we didn't lay those awful expectations on every darn thing we worked on. We were students. We were learning. We hadn't done 1,000 drawings yet, so no problem....
If you can get into that mindset — what you do is learn as much as you can about making good art, and then you just work at it. Consider it research & development.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, said it takes about 10,000 hours of practice before people become really good at something. So if your inner critic pops up, ask yourself, "Have I done my 10,000 hours yet?" If the answer is no, tell your critical voice you're still learning, and it can come back after you've done your 10,000 hours of practice.
Then you have 10,000 (or however many) hours to learn how to make art without your critical voice popping up. Make the most of it! Working from your creative side, rather than your critical side, will become a wonderful habit, and you will be able to make art. And the more you do, the better you get.
It's like the old joke about how you get to Carnegie Hall... practice, practice, practice....
Karen Lynn Ingalls
I am a working artist in Napa and Sonoma Counties, in northern California. I paint colorist landscapes of rural California, teach art classes, workshops, and private lessons, live in Calistoga, and have my art studio in Santa Rosa, California.