Monday Motivator: Compare Yourself to Yesterday

“Compare yourself to yourself yesterday, not to younger people who aren’t you. Everyone progresses at a different rate, so don’t let anyone else make you feel behind. You probably don’t even know where exactly you’re going, so feeling behind doesn’t help.”

David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
via Austin Kleon

Compare your paintings and drawings to yesterday’s, last month’s, last year’s.

Find the earlier work of an artist and track their progress, don’t unfairly compare a painting of yours to your favourite painting by them without looking at what they did to get to that point. Monet didn’t start with his now-much-loved Impressionist paintings, he started with charicature.

Claude Monet, Caricature of a Man with a Big Cigar 1855/6, The Art Institute of Chicago
Claude Monet, Caricature of a Man with a Big Cigar 1855/6, The Art Institute of Chicago

Monet’s lily-pond paintings evolved over the decades he painted them. Nearly 20 years separate the two below. In the second there aren’t elements that give context, no bridge, no horizon line, just abstracted pattern and colour. It’s the first painting with most of it cropped off.

Claude Monet, Water Lily Pond, 1900, The Art Institute of Chicago
Claude Monet, Water Lily Pond, 1900, The Art Institute of Chicago
Claude Monet, Water Lily Pond, 1917/19, The Art Institute of Chicago
Claude Monet, Water Lily Pond, 1917/19, The Art Institute of Chicago

Below is the earliest tree painting I have of mine, from when I was eleven, and my most recent, done this month. It makes me laugh to think how long I’ve been creating inadvertent pattern whilst trying to paint randomly spaced tree trunks. Inbetween there have been quite a few tree paintings.

Oils on A2 watercolour paper.

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