Perfectionism: Overcoming the Artist’s Hurdle

When you are looking for a creative escape, have you ever stopped before you start because you fear the end result won’t be the perfect picture you’ve painted in your mind? This all-or-nothing attitude of perfectionism can lead to analysis paralysis – where you overanalyze a situation to the point that you are unable to move forward on a decision. This is when perfectionism becomes a problem – when perfectionism gets in the way of performance.

Personally, I fall into this unhealthy loop too often. I’ll feel a wad of emotions and the need to untangle it through creativity, but I’ll talk myself out of it for fear of not attaining perfection. That’s a sure way to fail before even trying. Perfectionism is a flaw.

To push past this mental block, I decided to talk to artists – people who seem to know how to embrace the process instead of focusing JUST on the end result. I was honored to hear from three artists – all with different creative mediums and all in different walks of life. I hope reading their answers (and seeing their work) inspires you to knock down perfectionism’s barriers and create.

MCH Artwork

Morgan with MCH Artwork is a drip artist. She starts on an easel with brush and acrylic paint and then moves the canvas to the ground where the magic happens! She drips latex paint from a pallet knife above the canvas and then details and outlines the drips to bring all the layers together into one beautiful work.

  1. Do you strive to be perfect in your art?

I strive to be proud of what I’ve created. Sometimes that means I just appreciate the process, and then tweak the results until I’m pleased. Other times it just flows and comes together effortlessly. Both are part of creating. Perfection isn’t my goal. But quality control is a thing – I’ve started over many times on a fresh canvas when I’ve overworked a piece to try to “get it right”. It’s okay to admit when it just isn’t going to work.

2. What do you do when you make mistakes in your artwork?

For commissions, particularly any that are in the portrait realm, I worry that it won’t convey the essence of the moment or personality because it’s usually just from a reference photograph that I’m working from. And my eyes see it the way my eyes see it – I can’t change that. I like to please clients, which is good. But I can overthink when working on something so personal for them.

3. Why did you choose your particular artistic medium and what inspires you to create?

I’ve always been an artist. I loved sketching when I was younger and had it as an outlet when I got married and as I stayed at home with my three boys. After losing my first husband to suicide in 2010, the need to create and process sorrow and loss was huge. I had been repainting old furniture and had extra house paint, so decided to see what would happen if I dripped some on a canvas – and now I can’t look at something without wondering how I could drip it!

4. How does it feel when you create?

Creating is part of what makes me feel purposeful. It’s the one place I can go and totally lose track of time. It’s when I feel used by my Creator the most – that I’m using the gift he gave little ol’ me to show His love and care for others. It’s the best.

5. What kind of atmosphere or space do you do your best work in?

Distractions are awful for me, which is a challenge with a houseful of children! I’m blessed to have a studio connected to my house and, for the most part, it stays sacred for mama’s escape!

6. Is there an artist in everyone? If so, what does it take to find it?

Absolutely!!! I think an artist is someone who connects others and that can be done in so many areas of life. There is an art to all we do. I think it’s not a matter of finding it but just an acknowledgement of it already being there within us.

I think an artist is someone who connects others and that can be done in so many areas of life.

Morgan, MCH Artwork

Follow MCH Artwork on Instagram and check out her website – now including an online shop!

Still Elm

Lisa at Still Elm is a fiber dye artist. She dyes wool strands and suspends them from wood to create two-dimensional textured artwork. 

  1. Do you strive to be perfect in your art? 

The idea of perfection is tricky. I’ve always struggled with attempting to achieve perfectionism and I’ve really tried to loosen my grip on that through fiber dyeing. Sometimes it keeps us too restrained and prevents us from exploring, which in turn leads to us learning. Of course, I want to be happy with the end result but I try to remain open to what that will look like. 

2. What do you do when you make mistakes in your artwork? 

I try to take a step back to gain a bit of perspective on the piece. I usually put the project on hold until the next day, come back to it with a pair of fresh eyes, and readjust my expectations. Sometimes my entire initial concept needs to shift and sometimes my favorite results stem from those initial ‘mistakes’. There are also times there is no recovering, haha, and you take it as a learned lesson. I’m still such a beginner, so I’ve had to reframe mistakes as learning opportunities a lot! 

Sometimes my favorite results stem from those initial ‘mistakes’.

Lisa with Still Elm

3. Why did you choose your particular artistic medium and what inspires you to create?

My background is in interior design and that really came into play when starting out. My wife and I were getting settled as first-time homeowners and I knew I wanted a piece of art to hang in our living room, but I wanted something with texture….so I began experimenting! Some of my biggest inspirations are nature, how color palettes interact with one another, and well-designed interiors.

4. How does it feel when you create? 

It feels freeing and acts as a kind of escape for me. All of my overactive thinking sort of comes to a halt and I’m able to pour my full attention into what I’m creating. 

5. What kind of atmosphere or space do you do your best work in? 

I have to have music playing….usually stuff I’ve heard before that I can really zone out to and sing along with. When the weather cooperates, I love when I can work outside and have my pieces dry in the fresh air. It works out well for any potential mess too!

6. Is there an artist in everyone? If so, what does it take to find it?

I think so, even when they don’t resonate with the words creative or artistic. I think it’s usually a matter of finding a medium you are interested in by trying new things and giving yourself the grace (and time) to play around.

Be sure to check out Still Elm on Instagram and her Etsy shop.

Ana Treasure Box

Ana is a silk artist from the south of France. She makes one-of-a-kind handpainted silk scarves.

Ana says she creates her scarves in a variety of styles, so that everyone can find what they are looking for. This also helps her create scarves that reflect the mood and character of those who wear them. They all have one thing in common: vibrant colors!

  1. Do you strive to be perfect in your art? 

I am creating luxury items and that is why I always use high quality materials: natural fabrics and professional dyes that are resistant to washing and fading. This ensures that my work will please the customer for many years. I would like to be perfect, and when I make a small mistake or a small imperfection, this drives me nuts. However, I know that I’ll probably be the only one noticing it.

2. What do you do when you make mistakes in your artwork? 

It depends on what kind of mistake it is. If it is something that I really don’t like, I will probably repurpose it. For example, if it is a scarf, I will make twilly out of it or scrunchies. But if it is something small, most of the time, I will leave it as it is. In the case of a custom order, I would communicate it to the customer to see what they think about it.

3. Why did you choose your particular artistic medium and what inspires you to create?

After trying many forms of art, I fell in love with silk painting which became my “true art passion.”

Once, a friend of mine invited me to attend a workshop that she thought was going to be on watercolour. It actually turned out to be silk painting. I was fascinated by it and decided to continue. The more I learned about it, the more my passion grew. I have since attended several masterclasses and I love experimenting with different techniques.

A lot of my inspiration comes through travel. I love discovering new places. Every time I go somewhere new, my head is filled with ideas on what to create next.

4. How does it feel when you create? 

I totally immerse myself in the process and I feel like time does not exist.

5. What kind of atmosphere or space do you do your best work in? 

I like to work at home in a comfortable environment so I can just focus on creating and nothing else. Sometimes when I paint, I will also listen to music to create a specific ambiance.

6. Is there an artist in everyone? If so, what does it take to find it?

Everybody can be an artist but you need to learn how to appreciate your surroundings – the beauty in everything from the small details to the big panorama. You just need to understand what you enjoy in what is around you. Once you know how to do this, you can share it with other people.

I love my scarf that I called “Greetings from Valensole.” I painted it after we had a trip with my husband to the lavender fields in Valensole area. This place is so magical and smells amazing, especially during summer days when the flowers bloom and you can see the beautiful blue sky. I wanted to immortalize this charming spirit on a scarf, so you can have a piece of Provence with you all year round.

You can follow Ana Treasure Box on Facebook, Instagram and her Etsy shop.

MCH Artwork

Let MCH Artwork in Central Arkansas brighten up your home! She captures moments of fun, of joy, of hardship, of childhood, of life in the most unique way with her drip paintings.

I actually learned about her after a friend at work commissioned a unicorn piece for her apartment. I wanted MCH Artwork to be the first piece of original artwork I bought for my home.

My husband came up with the idea for our commissioned painting – a Ferris wheel – and MCH Artwork brought it to life in the most colorful way! It hangs in the sunroom and brings the quirky vibe we were wanting to this special place in our house.

Pictures of her studio give me all the happy vibes.