10 comments to Deep Thought Thursday: Perfection and the artist
Pamela Vaull Starr Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.
Found this on Wikipedia and thought it was interesting: The oldest definition of “perfection”, fairly precise and distinguishing the shades of the concept, goes back to Aristotle. In Book Delta of the Metaphysics, he distinguishes three meanings of the term, or rather three shades of one meaning, but in any case three different concepts. That is perfect: 1. which is complete — which contains all the requisite parts; 2. which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better; 3. which has attained its purpose.
But I think most artists are in the business of seeking perfection, at least within their disciplines. I don’t think many of us are happy when our artwork falls short of perfection. Perhaps we can learn to live with it, but I think not happily. Perhaps the warning is to avoid the attempt to attain perfection outside the artistic realm.
I agree! I often feel the guilt when I leave my perfectionist tendencies to my art and let other areas of my life fall short of perfection. I’ve often had to remind myself that I can’t do everything with the same passion and focus that I try to reserve for my art.
Oddly I never try for perfection in my art. It has its own energy and it comes and goes as the process happens (all in one sitting for me – otherwise it doesn’t work). But perfection? Completion, maybe, the feeling of “done.” I actually like the little blip here and there – what the Native Americans used to build into their pottery. Perfection isn’t possible, why beat your head against an immovable wall? You want perfection? Buy machine made.
I see “perfection” as one of those elusive things. You may have an idea of where you want to go with a piece. Then once you have it, some other direction opens up and then that’s where your current “perfection” lies. Like a cat/mouse game, the moment you catch it, that’s when it changes so you’re always reaching.
just a thought but isn’t it the fact that our work is never perfect that keeps us striving to do better? If the great masters believed they had achieved perfection they would probably stopped working. Once perfection has been achieved would there be reason to continue? What else could be achieved?
It is ludicrous to think of perfection and art in the same thought. The perception of art is subjective. You might think you made the PERFECT work of art. Then, a viewer might think otherwise. Patrons who see your work might see the same “perfect” artwork, but think something totally unexpected or planned interpretations. Therefore, you have to do your best and hope others will see and understand the perfection that you tried to present. If they don’t that is OK too. You did the best you could do with your honesty and personal vision. Now, that IS perfect!
I gave up the idea of “perfection” long ago, both in my art and in my housekeeping…lol. For me, making art is an ongoing and infinite experience, and “perfection” implies stasis or an “end point,” as in the idea of a fixed and specific goal. To me, art is neither. Making art is a dynamic and joyous experience, a process of discovery in which passion is balanced with restraint, to create something that didn’t exist before. Take the discovery out of it, and you might as well be folding laundry! Every work, whether it be painting, writing, or music, can be taken in a thousand directions. So nothing can really be called “finished,” let alone “perfect.”
Allyson: I have a problem with perfection and it causes me to do nothing. What do you suggest?