“You have a real talent, Amy.”
I’ve heard it since I was old enough to hold a pencil. Hours in my room and sketchbooks piled high, I was always known as the artist of the family. I can’t remember a life without art, and I don’t want to. It’s one of the only ways I have to express myself. Something about being in control and knowing that I’m making something that will make someone happy creates a level of comfort for me. It’s amazing how I’ve progressed, as well. Looking back, I see all the artwork I did that was just like any other little kid’s things – messy and disproportionate.
“How did you know that I was going to be good at art? These aren’t any better than any other kid could do.
I’ve asked this a lot. I still do. The answer never satisfies me.
“You spent hours every day drawing. We could all see that you had a true passion for this.”
That’s all I get? How am I supposed to know if my work is actually good or if you’re just commenting on my ‘passion’? Needless to say, I’m never satisfied. I strive for perfection in every line I draw. One movement of a paintbrush could provoke questioning thoughts until I make another one. Why in the world would I do that? That color is completely off. What was I thinking? I have to go back and fix that. My mother always tells me I’m too hard on myself. Every piece I finish she yells, “PORTFOLIO!” No. Just, no. Part of being an artist is being more self-critical than usual. If I thought that every piece I did was good enough to make it into my portfolio, I would never improve in a million years.
I knock my own work down, critiquing every possible aspect of it. If I didn’t do this, I wouldn’t fix my mistakes. My family and friends all say things like, “Oh, you can’t even notice that! It’s not a big deal.” Well, actually, it’s a huge deal. It’s a flaw. I can see it. And unless I fix it that flaw is the only thing that I see when I look at that work. I’ve never loved a single piece I’ve done. If I find something wrong with it, I don’t always dwell, but I learn. Eyes aren’t that close together, I’ll fix that next time. Teeth don’t look like Chiclets. That horizon line is completely misplaced.
Some people don’t understand what I see. They think that I’m as close to perfect as I can get. They don’t think improvement is necessary. Some people think when I change things on a work it’s going to ruin it because “it already looks good.” They don’t see that ‘good’ is not good enough. They don’t think I have good judgment on my own works, as if they have the right to say that. Some people call me a perfectionist. They call me way too self-critical. They call me OCD. Me? I call myself an artist.