Monday Motivator: Tame Your Inner Art Critic with Some Self-Compassion

“Think about the way you speak to yourself. Would you say those things to the most precious person in your life? We’re often so hard on ourselves and then we’re surprised when our behavior doesn’t improve. Imagine you have a boss who watches your every move with a super critical eye and is never satisfied with anything you do… that’s not the inner voice you need.

— chanel-r, The Most Important Connection You’ll Ever Make Is With Yourself, 11 June 2016

If when judging one of your paintings or drawings you find yourself heading down the “that’s rubbish” path, stop and think what you’d say if it were a piece by someone you’d want to encourage. What would you say about it then?

You’d probably head along the path that’s signposted “it may not be successful overall but…” and find some aspect of it that’s worth remembering, , or worth enjoying, or worth repeating, or worth trying again.

It might be that the drawing was pushed further, risking failure but not stopping as a safe, familiar spot. It might be that it’s mostly exercise for your artistic muscles, a warm-up and practice for the next. It might be a starting point for trying something dramatic to rescue it. It might be one line of interesting mark making.

It might be many things, but it rarely is all rubbish and pointless.

Substitute the word “art” for “behaviour” in the quote above, and apply self-compassion on your artistic journey. Be critical of your painting, certainly, but constructive not destructive.

3 Replies to “Monday Motivator: Tame Your Inner Art Critic with Some Self-Compassion”

  1. This is so great, Marion. THANK YOU!!! I have to read this every day. Just yesterday, I threw my small exercises in watercolour in the corner and called it all ‘shit’. Even though I realize that wc is much harder to do than acrylics – for me anyway – and I’m just starting to learn this new technique, I’m too hard on myself.

    1. I think granting ourselves the time to learn is very hard, we pressurise ourselves to get it right straight away (near impossible) and not “waste” time or materials (not that it is wasted). Throwing in the corner is still okay as you can retrieve them in a few days and reassess. In the bin eliminates the chance of a reassessment when one’s not feeling so frustrated.

  2. This is great advice! I do have a very nasty boss in my head. Because of it, I have trouble stepping out of my comfort zone to try approaches or media that are new and different.


Add a comment here: