I feel so inundated with ideas from every single photo reference around me right now. Sometimes I am super inspired by them, but sometimes they make me want to put my paintbrush down because I get so overwhelmed by all the ways I can start painting from photographs that grab my attention! Today is one of those days where I am inspired yet tired. Tired of striving for perfect. Can anyone hear me?
|Pro Cycling by Shen, 18 x 24, acrylic on gesso board.
People look at my paintings and drawings and can marvel, but I am sure there are some who look at my work and cringe! In fact, after the great honor of winning the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Poster Contest for Beaver Creek, Co, the comments my work received were quite interesting. They served to confirm my suspicions. I'll say most of them were off the charts extraordinary and hundreds of people liked the image on Facebook, but then there was a comment like, "Horrible" or "What is that?"
I start to question why I do this at all. But I know that answer. I do this because I have a voice. And it is not the voice of the "inner art critic" that I want to give the floor to. It is the voice of my heart and passion. And sometimes that voice carries me in a lot of different directions.
On my studio painting easel right now is a commission for a woman who adored her pot-bellied pigs that are now in pig heaven, and on the other wall is a six-foot commission of five dogs playing poker (and a cat serving drinks), all of which were another client's pets over the years. Do people scratch their heads about the vast array of subject matter I paint, in a wide range of styles and media? Maybe. But does variety make one less of an artist? Less professional? Some would say so, and some would say absolutely not.
I am tired of the constant quest for other people's perfection. So instead of getting bogged down by comparisons and negative thinking, I am acknowledging where I am and where and how I will advance in my painting techniques and style and message.
||Wonder Woman by Shen, 18 x 24,
acrylic on gesso board.
Recently, I put together a list of the "Things That Are
Important to Me," and I found it quite revealing. It was a list of
simple things like family, faith, beauty, and honesty. But then
something showed up on that list like "originality" and "pop culture"
and I understand why I painted Wonder Woman and The Joker last summer.
I will keep being an artist, just like you will. It is our life calling. I hope to die with brushes (or spray cans) in hand and paint smeared on my face. But I don't want to die with this nasty inner art critic's voice still haunting me. So, I suppose if I am to strive, it will be to strive to see the truth, but only my truth. Because that is the only truth that matters to an artist.
How have you overcome your inner art critic? Leave a comment and let me know.
Shen loves making the flat surface of a
painting or drawing come to life. A professional artist and
entrepreneur for more than 25 years, she lives to discover new
techniques, mix media, and make difficult concepts simple! You will
often find her painting live at events of all kinds to "wow" her
audience. Her work has been collected by celebrities, corporations, and
galleries spanning the globe. She is also an art instructor and
keynote speaker, speaking to artists about how to market themselves in
new, fun, and creative ways. Shen lives in Vail, Colorado, with her
husband and three beautiful daughters. More of Shen's work may be
viewed on her website.