Learning to Let Go: Dealing with Perfectionism While Making Art

When a mistake is made in art you have to learn how to fix it or forgive and not be a perfectionist.

Oops.  I hate it when this happens.

When a mistake is made in art you have to learn how to fix it or forgive and not be a perfectionist.

Artists tend to be perfectionists when it comes to their work. They want every detail to be perfect and will often spend hours toiling over a single piece. I have done this to the point where I will pass the ‘sweet spot’, or point of where my painting looks the best, and almost ruin it trying to make it more perfect.  However, art is subjective and there is no one “perfect” way to create a piece of art. In fact, it is the imperfections and flaws in art that make it unique and special. Each piece of art has the potential to evoke different emotions in different people, and this is what makes it so special. Perfectionism can be a good thing, but it is important to remember that art is subjective and meant to be enjoyed in all its imperfections.

I’m an artist, and I have carpal tunnel.  Despite the pain in my hands or wrists, I still find joy in creating art. Unfortunately, it can be so intense at times that my hand will occasionally go numb and I will drop my paintbrush. This can sometimes lead to paint being splattered onto the canvas, making marks that aren’t supposed to be there. 

Dropped my brush and it left black paint marks where there shouldn’t be any.

As a recovering perfectionist-artist, I have to take a breath and step back.  When I make a mistake it can be difficult to accept, even if it is accidental. However, I have learned to take the famous Bob Ross quote “happy accidents” to heart and use it to my advantage. Instead of throwing out the “ruined” piece of art, I try to figure out how to fix it. This has been a difficult but rewarding process that I work through every time I pick up the paintbrush.  Oftentimes I can find ways to disguise the mistakes, as Bob Ross would have done.  Thank you, Bob, for that inspiration!

Fix the mistake, don’t get angry and throw it out. Art is like life- it is not perfect.

Since I started painting in black and white, the process of fixing these “oops” have become a bit easier. Instead of worrying about the exact color of paint or blending to match, I am able to focus on the structure and composition of my art. 

Mistake is fixed and I can carry on and finish my piece!

Even though it can still be frustrating to make a mistake, it has taught me the lesson that art is not meant to be perfect, as life itself is not perfect. Mistakes are a natural part of the creative process and can be used to an advantage. Through these mistakes, I have learned to embrace the unexpected, which is an important part of not only creating, but in life itself. 

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Lori Lebel at art show

Lori Lebel at Art Show

Lori Lebel has been an artist since she was 11 years old, selling her first oil painting at 13 and becoming the first recipient of the Young Achievers Award by Johnson and Johnson with a hallway dedicated to young achievers following her exhibit there.

After taking a break from art to focus on family, Lori began painting again in 2016, combining her passion for music and art, and created her “Icon Series”.

This series portrays black and white shadow art of musicians and people of influence. Lori currentl y serves as Executive Director of the Connecticut Art Gallery. When not in the art studio, Lori writes for Positive News For You, reading, and spending time with her boyfriend, her two young adult children, and her two fur babies, Koda and Phoebe.

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