Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics
by Katharine A. Cartwright
Watercolor on paper
26" x 20"
This painting is the fifth in my new series entitled "The Laws of Nature." The "Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics" states that if two bodies are in thermal equilibrium with a third body, then all three bodies are in thermal equilibrium.
Art & Fear: observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking
by Bayles and Orland.
In Chapter 3, the authors continue their examination of fears about ourselves by considering the role of perfectionism. Thankfully, this is not a problem that afflicts me. I'm happy to expose my flaws and embrace them as part of who I am. But, there are many who don't accept flaws and the authors offer great advice:
If you think good work is somehow synonymous with perfect work, you are headed for big trouble.
Art is human; error is human; ergo, art is error.
Without warts it is not clear what you would be, but clearly you wouldn't be one of us.
The belief persists among some artists that doing art means doing things flawlessly - ignoring the fact that this prerequisite would disqualify most existing works of art.
Ansel Adams, never one to mistake precision for perfection, once noted that "the perfect is the enemy of the good."
To require perfection is to invite paralysis.
To demand perfection is to deny your ordinary (and universal) humanity, as though you would be better off without it. Yet this humanity is the ultimate source of your work; your perfectionism denies you the very thing you need to get your work done.
Ultimately, perfectionism leads one to abandon artmaking with a feeling of utter discouragement. Isn't it great that we don't have to succumb to that fate if we can just embrace the flaws that make us who we are? Whew - what a relief!
What are your thoughts?