Monday, January 28, 2013


work in progress
I took my first botanical watercolor class about two years ago. Marilyn Garber, founder of the Minnesota School of Botanical Art, is an exceptional instructor who pushes me beyond my comfort level, but not so far that I panic. The image to the right is what I'm working on right now as a part of her "Tulip Mania" class. It's about 3/4 finished. There are parts of the work that I like, but a whole lot more that I'm dissatisfied with. But then I'm never happy with my work. 

Marilyn and I were talking about this recently. "I know many artists who are never satisfied with their work," she said. "As long as we compare ourselves to others, it's likely we'll find ourselves wanting."

This reminded me of a post-workout conversation in the sauna at the gym the other day. "This keeps on getting harder," one of the women said. "Maybe," I replied, "it's because we keep raising our own bars. I'm able to do more than I could a year ago, and certainly much, much more than I when I first joined the 'Y'. What was hard then is easy now."

So maybe it's the same with painting...or music...or sculpture...or cooking; we're critical of our own work not so much because we compare ourselves to others but rather that we keep trying for something more challenging. But then, to paraphrase Miles Davis, isn't it better to try something new and do it badly than to keep doing the same ol' thing?

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