The Tyranny of Success

In an earlier post, a listing of Demons that plague all artists, I mentioned success as a frequent stumbling block.  On the surface it seems strange to consider success to be a potential issue, but there are two particular aspects of success that can cause problems.

1. Falling in love with a part of your painting early on in the process.  The danger is that the dynamic of the painting process can change from the successful completion of the piece as a whole to protecting that fabulous part of the piece. The first thing you need to do is be aware of this possibility so you can recognize when it is happening. Secondly, take a photo of that section so that you can  store it for future consideration, thus freeing yourself from the fear of losing it.  Then continue to work on the piece as a whole, retaining that section or not, as the painting requires.  Take the time later to study the photograph to determine what it is that you liked so much about it and hopefully the answers to that question will become stored in the right side of your brain and come through again…….in an entire painting.

2. Winning an award/getting into a prestigious show/words of praise from someone you respect….. potential stumbling blocks if this leads you  to limit your work to repeating the same “successful” pieces. I am not referring to working in series and exploring different aspects of a particular idea, I’m talking about becoming tied to what you perceive to be a successful “formula” and hesitating  to step outside that proven formula for fear of not being successful.

“Success is dangerous.  One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others.  It leads to sterility.”  Pablo Picasso

“Don’t carpet your rut.”  Gerald Brommer

About jbart3916

Artist, specializing in original drawings, paintings, and collages. View all posts by jbart3916

3 responses to “The Tyranny of Success

  • notes to the milkman

    I’ve reblogged this post at notesfromthemilkman,

    Like

  • Egle

    … interesting…

    Like

  • zorgor

    Very thought provoking. I’ve been experimenting with masking parts of paintings lately, as I continue to paint. In addition to doing this for effect, I have also masked parts I particularly like so that I don’t have to try to remember to work around them, which yes can be limiting, and so I know they’ll be part of the finished work. I’m not sure where that puts me in regard to what you said, but it does free me from worrying about saving them… I think it does keep the dynamic from changing though. I’ve seen that happen before I hit upon this idea. Not a trick I could use of course, if I’m not using masking anyway… Anyway I think I’ll be more aware of this now that I’ve read this. 🙂

    Like

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