Don't Be Afraid of Perfection; You'll Never Reach It.........(Salvador Dalì)

Salvador Dalì (1904-1989)

I often hear people say that they couldn’t even draw a straight line much less paint. When I ask why, they frequently respond that they know they would  not be good at it, people would laugh at their efforts or that they would not even know where to begin. 

My response to this is, first of all, to just jump in feet first and create! Don’t think about what others will say. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Art is your escape into a world all of your own, an escape to a place far from daily life where you can be yourself without constraints or limits. You have the power to create. Just simply look deep within yourself and bring out what you have inside.

Kurt Vonnegut said, “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.”  Often these days our souls are silenced by life. By creating, you liberate yourself. You can express yourself with art. You can let out feelings of joy, fear, anger, doubt, etc. You can create to decompress after a difficult day. You express who you are and in so doing, your soul is fed, your heart feels joy and you are empowered.

Thomas Merton said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and to lose ourselves.”  So true. The moment I picked up a paint brush, I knew I had found my true self and it was then that I could happily lose myself in my creativity and in my art. 

To be honest, I admit to having occasional fears and doubts too, but I do not let them limit me. For example, I used to be afraid to paint human faces. I just did not feel confident enough. I do not aspire to be a portrait painter, but I would like for people looking at my work to recognize a face as opposed to, say, a garbage can with a nose or a goat with long curly locks! No offense to either garbage cans or goats!Two weeks ago, I participated in a weekend creative retreat online. I was nervous, but thought, what the heck, no one sees me here, let’s do it!  I was very, very pleasantly surprised to discover that I absolutely love to paint faces! It is not the profound mystery of the universe that I had believed it to be!  

Ok, I hear you asking, what is intuitive painting? Intuitive painting is a synonym of freedom. You let the paint do what it is gonna do. Say whaaat? Yep, that’s right – stay with me here. Intuitive painting is using multiple layers of paint with each layer helping to decide what comes next. You embrace letting go and permitting your art to evolve as you feel it happening. You go with the flow of your painting. You start with an idea and then let it develop naturally. 

Recently, i decided to paint my spirit animal (a cat if you hadn’t already guessed! LOL). So I sketched it out and began painting but halfway through I just wasn’t feeling it,  so i changed it up and began working just a layer at a time, without too much thought and just let it evolve. The initial painting wasn’t bad, just not what my heart was telling me. I am so glad to have gone with my intuition, as I consider this painting one of my best. 

Ok, you might be saying that this is too woo-woo, far out or spacey, but hey, give it a go! You will never grow that soul till you listen to what is inside you! Trust in yourself! You are an artist even if you do not know it yet. Just grab a pencil and a piece of paper or a paint brush and go for it! Slap something down and go from there. One thing with lead to another. Channel those feelings!

Recently, someone had placed poison around the feral cat colony that I take care of. Thankfully, I found it before any of the cats were harmed, but I was furious! After contacting the police and reporting what had happened, I began sketching furiously with a pen on a piece of paper. A rough sketched emerged from my anger, but I really loved that it was a female warrior and a cat. I decided to paint it, but had a problem. No matter how hard Itried, I could not recreate that sketch exactly as I loved it onto the canvas. It just wasn’t happening. A bummer, right? Failure, you say? Nope, not at all! I decided to go with the flow and think outside the (litter) box, so I simply cut the sketch into pieces and glued them to a canvas. I then began to paint over the sketch and soon that rough sketch slapped down in anger evolved into a detailed and personal mixed media painting that reveals how I see myself. It evolved into “The Queen of Swords & The Green Man, which I love.

The point here is that there is no right or wrong as the goal is not perfection in art, but freedom and personal growth. Remember, as the sociologist Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929) stated, ” An artist cannot fail – it is a success just to be one!”

So, as the great Salvador Dali said, “You won’t achieve perfection, so it is nothing to fear”…….Anyway, let’s face it, only cats are purr-fection purr-sonified! However, you can create something that comes from deep within yourself, you can feel free and empowered and you just might surprise yourself too!

So, let go of fear and self doubt and create!  I hope this inspires you!

Categories: Blog


Gaelle · 25 October 2021 at 23:37

Not only do I love your work but what you have written is truly inspirational. I haven’t painted for for ages but I find your words so encouraging. Thank you 😊

    rowan · 26 October 2021 at 15:56

    Oh, Gaelle, thank you so so very much for your kind words. I truly appreciate that. I hope I have inspired you to start painting again.

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