Art Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect To Be Meaningful

Posted by on December 6, 2016

McKella Sawyer

I don’t draw perfectly. Not even close.

I mean, I draw well enough. My sketches usually look like the thing I was trying to draw in the first place. A lot of my drawings are even pretty good.

But few, if any, are perfect. Sometimes my shading is off, or my proportions are a little wonky. My painting isn’t perfect either. I could go into detail about my bad habits as an artist, the things I struggle with, what I still can’t get right after tons of practice, but that’s boring and unhelpful.

The thing is, a lot of people don’t even notice the mistakes. I see screw-ups in pretty much every piece I make, but that’s not what’s important.

Here’s what is important: A lot of people have been moved emotionally by my work and they either don’t notice or don’t care about the flaws.

This summer, I picked up a few pieces from a gallery show, and the gallery owner told me a few days early, a woman stood in front of one of my paintings and started to cry. Of course, the gallery owner asked her if she was all right, and the woman said she’d just been diagnosed with cancer, and that painting touched her deeply.

That painting wasn’t perfect.

A good friend of mine suffered a miscarriage, and one day I posted a sketchbook drawing on Instagram. She messaged me to tell me how much she loved it, how it moved her, how she felt like it was her.

That drawing wasn’t perfect either.

If I’ve learned anything as an artist, it’s this: Art doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful and meaningful.

If I waited for every piece to be technically perfect in every way, I’d never finish anything. No one would see anything I make.

I wait until I’m satisfied, when I feel like the piece has served its purposed and said what it needs to say, and then I release it to the world.

We can get so stuck in practice, taking classes, redoing everything until it’s flawless that we miss the whole point of art: to communicate, to connect with our fellow humans, and for our own fulfillment.

Practice of course, experiment and learn, but be proud of what you make in the meantime. Share it with the world. You never know who’ll you reach.

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