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Joy Thief

"This doesn't look like hers at all!"

"Why can't I paint like he does?"

"This sucks. Everyone else's paintings look so much better than mine."

Raise your hand if you're guilty of these or similar thoughts. I know I have been, and am still working on changing my thought process when it comes to my own art.

"Comparison is the thief of joy." ~Theodore Roosevelt

You see, when you compare yourself to others, you suck energy from yourself and your painting, leaving it dull, dry, and lifeless. And it makes the act of painting a contest that you'll likely never win. Think about it. Did you really pick up that brush and squeeze those paint tubes just to hold your painting up to the person next to you? Art is an expression, not a contest!

EVERY SINGLE PERSON has a completely different skill set and set of experiences that defines them and moves that brush along the canvas. One person may have been painting since they could hold a brush in their hand. Another person (or maybe this is you) may be experiencing their first few brush strokes. And even within that time frame, what else have they been doing? There is absolutely no way you can compare apples to apples when it comes to comparing your own painting to someone else's. The only person you should be comparing to, is yourself.

Think of other ways to measure your painting. Have you painted this subject before? Is it better than your last painting? How are you feeling? Did you master a technique (regardless of what the painting looks like)? There are a ton of different ways you can judge your own painting. Most of the time, your painting doesn't need judging at all. Let the viewer decide how they like it. And if they don't, THAT'S OK!

Learn to appreciate art, not judge it. Did you know that you can appreciate something without actually liking it? Strange concept, I know. Think about it, though. You can appreciate the techniques used in a particular painting, or the colors, or the subject, or even the style, but not actually like the painting as a whole. Does that mean it sucks? Absolutely not. This can be applied in the reverse as well. You can like a painting as a whole, but still think there are elements that could be better. Take these moments as opportunities to improve.

Try this. The next time you catch yourself comparing your art to someone else's, stop. Appreciate their art. Examine what elements in their painting you're attempting to compare. It's likely an area that you feel you need improvement on, right? That's great! Take this as an opportunity to examine their painting and how they achieved the technique. Maybe you can even ask them how they did it. Then, try it on your own painting. You WILL NOT get it right the first time! Keep doing it over and over again until YOU feel like you've mastered it. Keep going until you're happy. And even then, keep trying. Compare your present painting to the first one you attempted to compare and see how much progress you've made! Now, doesn't that feel so much better?

We are all individuals. We all have our own experiences, skills, and knowledge. We all have our own style. It's IMPOSSIBLE to compare what you've done to what anyone else has done. Comparison is merely a black hole that will take you backwards in your painting career. Move forward. Be you.

The Eclectic Lady aka Autra Oliver

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