It's much easier to share unfinished work on my blog than it is to share it when it is finished. Sometimes I am consciously choosing that, although not always. Often I am just excited. I had so much fun painting I want to say 'look world, at what I did today!' and it's not typical for a painting to be finished in one session or one day. So while the reason for showing an unfinished painting is often simple enthusiasm, it is also safe. It's safe because if there is anything 'wrong' with it, if somebody doesn't like it, my ego is safe because the painting isn't finished. I know that there is more to do, usually some shadows and light to add, perhaps more colour to dab around. These are the things I typically do last and take more time to do. Sometimes I need to loosen it up with larger, looser brush strokes. After I have done this I rarely show the painting again. I may want to, but now the fear is that I will bore people with it.
"Oh that thing again. I didn't like it the first time."
Painting seems to be the thing I really care about. Oh sure there are other ways to push my buttons. For instance, suggest that I don't care about something which I do care about, or that I am not honest and sincere, which for the most part I am, and I will probably get quite upset. When I think back over my life and at what made me cry, it was generally these issues at the root of it.
I publicly share a terrible outfit, write things in first draft with lots of mistakes and post it, post photos of my face without makeup and looking pale and tired and ill. I can write about my failings and fears, but what scares me most is sharing a photo of my finished paintings and risking criticism or indifference. The latter might be worse. This is where I am vulnerable, so this is what I am determined to get sorted.
Recently I read some advice about this, because I am not alone. Far from it. And as with most things arty, this advice probably extends into other areas of life as well. Here it is.
Learn not to care about what others think.
OH MY GONDOLA! We have never heard this advice before.
Okay, we have and I am just naturally a sarcastic woman. You should know that about me. BUT isn't the best advice the easiest to ignore? It's hard, that's why. It's not easy to learn to not care about what others think and while I've done it in some areas of my life I haven't achieved it in all of them. I've had less practice at making art and showing it to people. Much less practice than I have had showing my face or my outfit or writing things down and knowing that people will see what I've written. I've been doing all of those things nearly my whole life. I've been making art off and on for quite awhile, but giving myself permission to really take it seriously ( in the way that one must take fun seriously or die ) and to do it often and show it to people, well that is harder and I am still near the beginning of that journey. It has only been about seven years since I bought myself proper art supplies and gave myself permission to spend time and money on this pursuit.
I used to imagine that there was some sort of magic destination where I would feel like a proper artist and have no compunctions about charging money for my time, talent and materials, easily who others my work with the full on knowledge that I am good. But I realised two things. One of them is that I am not that sort of person and never have been. I require a very high level of mastery to consider myself an expert in something and thus it's rather unlikely in any area of life. It is my nature to set the bar very high and spend my life jumping. The other realisation is that I am not alone and not only that, but plenty of artists who have commercial success, who sell their hobby paintings, who most of us would consider really good, do not think this of themselves.
So here are some paintings I have shared in an unfinished state, now finished as far as I am going to take them. Sharing them now is a risk but at the same time it's a risk I feel ready to take so maybe it's not such a risk anymore. Progress. It happens if you keep going.