I recently read an article where two points in particular stood out to me. The article was a list of 9 things I needed to give up to be a successful artist. Being a successful artist isn't my end goal. I was told that it should be, but that person was a pretentious ass. Not every one that makes art should have fame as an end goal. To me, that isn't the point of art. But I digress. First, my interest was piqued by the point that said I should give up on my "need for praise".
Your job is to say something and to reach someone.
Ask yourself if you would make the work you make today if no one would ever see it. Would you paint or sculpt or draw that if you couldn’t show it to anyone?
But this leads me to the other point in the article that really stuck with me. And that is to give up comparisons. But, the thing is. I don't compare my work to others. I stopped doing that long ago. I had friends at art school who painting styles I would covet, but then I realized at art school that my brain sees things in a certain way, and that is okay. I was not loose like they were. I was tight and detailed. And, that was what made my style mine, and their style theirs. Over the years, I have worked to loosed up, but you can still find that sense of realism in there that I just can't hide from.
The blog post said I should only compare myself to myself. And, quite frankly, that is hard. And, at times, it sucks. I think it is good to compare your growth over time. Does your skill improve? Do you communicate better now than you have in past works? Have you shown command of your media? But, this is where I am fucking with my own head. How can I compare two pieces without comparing apples to oranges?
I recently have stared a series about the heart. Each individually I like. I do have to admit, one seems stronger, but I am trying to figure out why? Is is the technique, the vibrancy of the colors? For me, both say some very strong things. I think I communicated my message well in both. But something about the second one is throwing me, and it is making me doubt it. I am happy with the execution, and had I painted it first, I don't think I would be having this conversation in my head. I am hoping when I move onto the third one, things will calm down and it will all even out.
Maybe this is part of the process. I tell my students all the time that whatever they are feeling about their work, it's just part of the process. Who knows.