What I've always wanted to ask other artists...

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Original Post

jgouveia says

So here is something I've been wanting to ask other artists for years. When looking at the work of your hero's, how does that compare to looking at your own work?

When I see the work of my favorites (Mark Rothko, Hans Hoffman) besides being inspired, I feel a little anxious. It almost overwhelms me as to what I'm seeing and standing so close to. The greatness. I purposefully open myself in hopes of feeling their spirit there with me. Wishing they would touch my shoulder and inject me with their amazing talent.

But viewing my own work is obviously quite different. The process of creating itself is really what does it for me, not so much the end results. When I look at my work, I do feel pride. But I also feel slightly disconnected from the painting. I look at it more with a critical eye and evaluate what I need to work on or what direction I want my next painting to go in. The artwork becomes a learning tool.

I've always been very curious to hear other artist's opinions on this subject. What do you feel when you look at your own work?

Posted at 9:29am Feb 10, 2010 EST


I have a tendency to think "Ugh. I suck!" when I look at the work of artists I admire. :) It does provide inspiration and goals to aspire to, but it's hard sometimes not to be self-critical.

Posted at 9:33am Feb 10, 2010 EST

Yeah, I'm insecure as well when confronted with greatness. Even going to local jewelry boutiques that make pieces within my genre makes me anxious, so I know what you mean.

Posted at 9:38am Feb 10, 2010 EST

I try to aspire, as opposed to getting discouraged when I stand in the shadow of greatness. =)

Posted at 9:38am Feb 10, 2010 EST

It depends on how much time I have put into a certain piece. Right now I have 7 very time consuming pieces I finished last fall, I showed them to a gallery who wanted to display them. Now they are hidden in a closet because I cannot stand to look at them and if they were out I would probably throw them in the fire.

I find that the more time/work I put into a piece the more likely it is I will go through a period of detesting it when it is finished, but that passes eventually. Sometimes I hide them from myself long enough to completely forget the work and then when I 'find' it again I am surprised. I call it my 'break up' period and I don't fully understand the thought processes that cause it.

Posted at 9:40am Feb 10, 2010 EST

mousch says

Usually if I look at something I've made as little as 2 months ago I think "Oh my god look at all of those mistakes! What was I THINKING!"
But usually I immediately shift my focus to how I would've improved and how much more I know with practice :)

Posted at 9:40am Feb 10, 2010 EST

I think that I am weirdo or something.

When I see the work of someone amazing I don't get jealous or insecure. First, I am in awe and kind of in love, and then I feel really relieved. Ha.

The inspiration that I feel from looking at work so much better than my own overwhelms me, and I feel refreshed/ invigorated because I know that I can never be that good, (I'm thinking of the paintings of Georges Braques, Miro, Max Ernst, Renoir and Old Masters) so it's as if a huge internal pressure has been released.

It's really freeing for me, oddly enough.

Posted at 9:43am Feb 10, 2010 EST

I try not to compare myself with others. It's not that I don't admire the work of others - I certainly do (Jes MaHarry rocks!), but my style is different. I don't feel like it is beneficial to compare our two works. I try to focus more on the things I can control and aspire to improve.

Posted at 9:44am Feb 10, 2010 EST

Oops! I hit send too soon :) sorry!

When I look at my own work? Ha. By the time a is finished I'm pretty sick of looking at it. I think that's fairly common?

If I still like something a year later, then that's a good sign. I much prefer to look at the work of others than myself. Our house is full of framed prints and paintings, and all of them are from friends, peers, other artists and the like.

Posted at 9:45am Feb 10, 2010 EST

I truly am trying to understand that it is ok if I never am as good as those that I look up too and that my work can be good too. Sometimes comparing my art to anothers is like comparing apples to... fish. But fish can be beautiful too :)

Posted at 9:47am Feb 10, 2010 EST