Ever wondered what it would be like to live around the corner from a world renowned art gallery? Apparently it can be a pain in the arse. According to the School of Life, there were some very famous artists who at one time or another wanted to burn the Louvre down – Braque, Picasso, Pissarro and Corot to name a few.
All that inspiration just a stones’ throw away may seem like heaven for an artist, but being presented with such perfectionism can be intimidating as it can make your own efforts look futile. It saps your creative confidence. I can remember many years ago driving home after visiting the Golden Summers exhibition featuring the Heidelberg School artists at the NGV and thinking “they’ve said it all so there’s nothing more to say”.
The School Of Life warns us that our admiration for the masters can be major impediments to ever ourselves reaching a good enough solution to the tasks we face in our own working lives. “Your love of the ideal has made it frightening and humiliating to do anything yourself.” Perfectionism is a major cause of procrastination and the Book Of Life has 4 solutions to the problem without resorting to arson, and I can add a 5th.
1. Go to the artist’s studio, not the gallery and look at the wrecked early versions, the frustrations and all the ground work that lead to the final product.
2. Buy a Korean moon jar. It’s beautiful but certainly not perfect. The glaze is uneven and there are lumps and dents at various points. “For something to be loved and valued, it really isn’t necessary for it to be perfect.”
3. Place yourself at the outer reaches of the solar system, let’s say Pluto which seems to be in the news at present. It is equidistant from London, Sydney and Moscow. From what we can tell, nothing much happens there. From the point of view of Pluto “the exact quality of the report you are writing, the ideal order of the financial presentation, the brilliance (or lack of it) of the marketing campaign… none of these look very urgent.”
4. Write down the fears that are preventing you from making a start, and subject them to rational analysis. Will the world end tomorrow if I don’t produce the perfect painting?
5. In an earlier post, I referred to the story we all have to tell. Should a Rembrandt or a Caravaggio prevent you from telling that story?