Guest post by someone who makes me question, ponder, and think about things from a new perspective… my daughter.
I often am at a loss when it comes to answering the dreaded question: “So, are you any good?” I think I’m pretty good, but what if they see me in action and think differently? Then I’ll have made myself look poorly skilled and arrogant! On the other hand, if I say I’m not good then they won’t take me seriously. Perhaps the idea of being “any good” is just a game of comparison. Maybe I can only compare my own progress, like the image at the beginning of this article compared with the more recent one below.
I’m a great artist if you compare me to a beginner, but I’m downright laughable if you compare me to a master. It’s like the saying, “You’ve gotta start somewhere.” That same master was at my level 25 years ago. While I don’t want to wish my life away, I’m anxious for those 25 years to pass and bless me with all the knowledge and skill of a master. At least then I won’t feel so self-conscious about my ability as an artist. Still, I wonder if even master artists doubt their ability.
Perhaps, “Are you any good?” is the wrong question to ask. Maybe I should stop looking at where I am and instead look at where I’m going. I have a habit of beating myself down for not being good enough; I can’t do as much as other people. Still, if I really care about my art like I say I do then I’ll get there eventually. Time is my friend, not my enemy.
This kind of perspective also keeps an artist humble. The knowledge that you’re good but can always be better gives you both confidence and vision. You can perform well where you are, but you know where you’re going.