Some good memories of my mom were from our watching Bob Ross episodes. At the time, probably mid-1990’s, our local PBS channel would air some of his episodes Saturday mornings. Seeing a blank canvas transformed into a painting was soothing and pleasing. There was always an “ah-ha” moment, when everything came together and I saw what he was working towards.
I never really gave it much thought, but after I moved out and began my career, I was walking through a Michaels craft store and saw that they offered Bob Ross painting classes. I decided to try it, and it was a fun experience. I’m not a professional, and have on and off again painting on my own going back to the mid-2000s.
Painting is fun and calming. I make no qualms about my abilities and freely admit I’m not a professional. I tend to look at my work and see parts that I didn’t get right. I see where I wanted to put in a tree, say a maple or oak, and botched the technique, and ended up converting it to some evergreen (I’m better at these types). I see where I didn’t blend in the colors in the sky well, or that the color isn’t right. The mountain doesn’t look right. The distance doesn’t look far away as it should. The color is off. I could go on and on.
When I show it to someone, I invariably point out the flaws and they tell me they didn’t see it. For whatever reason, I tend to be my own worst critic. Where I should look at the parts that did come out like I planned.
I think I’ve improved, and am better about seeing both what I did well, and parts I need to improve on. I make no claims about my skills, and see some professional works and am amazed. Their understanding of color, their abilities to compose the scene, or their ability for details, all impress me much more than before I started painting.
The lesson is that we should not be so hard on ourselves. We will make mistakes. Sometimes we’ll make the wrong decision. Not just in creative endeavors, but in life and profession. Everyone does good things that may go unnoticed. In my own paintings, sometimes I neglect to realize that the mountain I painted was pretty good. I’ll never be so confident or egotistical to say something I made was perfect, but I can find the experience rewarding by seeing the good.
If you’re too hard on yourself, it may erode your confidence in a task or endeavor, but it may also take the fun out of it, and may not even try or make an effort. If you made a wrong decision, learn from it. Sometimes you’ll have a setback, but if you take the time and effort, you’ll always be able to glean positives. Going back to the drawing board is often a good thing, so that future attempts will be more successful.
So plan, research, learn, and always be open for a learning opportunity. Be of a positive mindset, and never be so hard on yourself that you become miserable. If something doesn’t work out or go according to plan, learn from it, and correct it next time. I still write off some paintings I do, and smooth them down, apply a few coats of white gesso, and start anew. Maybe one day I’ll master color theory and have better color control of my mixing, and I’ll keep at it and grow.
See what didn’t work out well, but also take the time to see what worked. See the full picture, and at the end of the day, don’t be so hard on yourself.