Comparisons and Judgements

This is my second year as “an artist”, maybe a year and a half since my first painting attempts, and my art journey has been one of trial and error: learning as I go from practical experience. I’ve bought many magazines and books about technique but I’ve never really followed their examples. Instead I have preferred to see art and read about art and find inspiration from what other people have done without trying to copy them.

I see how my painting has developed and I’m happy not to have copied techniques from books. What I do is far from perfect and it can be frustrating when something isn’t working out in the way I want. But I think I’m developing my own style and my own approach. I may have ideas inspired by what others have done but I haven’t tried to duplicate anything.

Throughout this year and a half my intentions have not changed but the method of putting those intentions into paint has changed significantly. Starting with attempts to paint text only my work has moved on with influences from various art movements and several individual artists. Parts of this process have been mentioned in previous articles.

One of the potential stumbling blocks that I face is the temptation to compare my work with the work of others, whether it be the well-known painters I’ve admired, or even the members of the local art society. I could see their work and see where it is more accomplished than mine. I could see what they are doing as being more valid, more technically proficient more GENUINELY artistic. I could see them as doing REAL paintings to a standard I haven’t achieved. But I need to take my own path, recognising my own limitations but not letting those limitations restrict what I try to achieve.

It would be a mistake for me to make someone elses work the standard by which I judge the validity of my own. It’s not as if there’s an ultimate authority in painting that all artists have to emulate and by which all art is judged.


2 thoughts on “Comparisons and Judgements

  1. For the Christian artist the question is, “Does my art please God?” What the world thinks is unimportant. If you use your art to put Scripture on people’s walls, God MUST be pleased, one wd think, as that fulfils “Go ye into all the world and evangelise every creature…”–evangelising in a very imaginative way!

    Here is a million dollar attempt to do just that–Colin McCahon’s “A Question of Faith” which has almost the whole of John’s account of the Raising of Lazarus:

  2. Chris,
    The need to “please God” is the standard that so many refuse to see across every aspect of life. As a result we tend to compare ourselves against irrelevant standards.

    This is seen when we consider ourselves to be “good people”. But what is the standard of “good” that we use to come to that conclusion? Are we “good” in comparison to Hitler, to the murderer, the thief, the belligerent troublemaking neighbour?

    Is it relevant to judge ourselves against the worst examples of humanity we can think of in order to elevate our own sense of worth?
    Or should we consider a standard higher than humanity? A standard outside of ourselves by which we gain a True picture of ourselves and our situation?
    Is our aim to please ourselves through self-deception? Or would we prefer the truth no matter how challenging it may be?

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