Uncertainty is a big part of making art, which can be a challenging force to dance with on a regular basis. Uncertainty is the act of making something out of nothing, of not knowing what marks will emerge before you start and being unsure a lot of the time about what you’re making. While this force can be a challenge, it can also be exhilarating to not know what’s round the next creative corner. When there are no rules in art, there are no wrong turns and only possibilities.
Kevin Gyoerkoe and Pamela Wiegartz in 10 Simple Solutions to Worry encourage that “It’s uncertainty—the thrill of not knowing—that allows us to get caught up in life and feel romance, excitement, joy, and wonder. When we give up the need to know, life becomes vibrant and yes, a little risky… A life without uncertainty would leave no possibility of pleasant surprises, and negative outcomes known in advance would eliminate the desire to take any risks.”
You can play it safe and try to avoid any uncertainty, or you can choose to lean into the unknown and trust that the perceived risk will pay off in unknown ways down the road.
Negative black-and-white thinking about your art can be harmful to your confidence and future art-making practice. While you may think labelling the art as “rubbish” or “bad” is stating the obvious, it could be blinding you to all the positive aspects of your art. Whatever your brain focuses on expands therefore looking at only “negative” aspects of your art, they will appear bigger, especially with similar repeated thoughts over time.
Kevin Gyoerkoe and Pamela Wiegartz talk about this extreme viewpoint in 10 Simple Solutions to Worry: “All or nothing thinking, or black-and-white thinking means viewing things in extreme categories. For example, you might describe a presentation you gave as “perfect” or “horrible.” Instead of a more balanced, reasoned view, you overlook the shades of gray, the subtleties of life, and force experiences into either-or categories (ie. describing yourself as “irresponsible” if you overlook a task or calling yourself a “failure” if you don’t meet an important personal goal.”
If by giving yourself constructive feedback you feel encourage to continue practicing then that’s great. But if you feel disheartened by your own feedback—especially if it’s black and white thinking—look for the more neutral “grey areas” instead. If you’re unable to find any small areas of the art you like, can you find one positive aspect? One specific line or dot? You can’t notice what you don’t look for. And “perfect” art is overrated. If we could do it perfectly instantly, we’d get bored very quickly. There’d be nothing new to learn and no joy from each step of growth accomplished over time. Look for the grey and let go of the pressure for your art to “be better” than it is right this moment.