Final self-critiques from my RISD Freshman Drawing class arrived in my inbox this week. Reading the critiques is always one of the highlights of the semester for me, and a wonderful way to wrap up the course.  Reading through the self-critiques, one excerpt in particular seemed especially pertinent to the self-portrait project that I’m working on now: “I’ve learned that, persevering through fear and self-doubt is essential to achieving a successful finished product.”

Lately I’ve been experiencing a lot of self-doubt about my project.  I know that this is inevitable in any project, but that doesn’t make it any easier when it happens. It’s interesting how you can intellectually understand why certain things happen, but when it comes down to confronting it, things never really get easier no matter how much experience you have.

Questions I’ve been asking myself this week include:

“Are these self-portraits too similar to my reference photographs? Am I not processing and manipulating the images enough?”
“Are they no more than just straightforward,  representational portraits?”
“Are the portraits just caricatures of pain and suffering, are they cliche, overdone and overtly obvious?”
“Am I losing the sense of immediacy and gesture by moving to this larger scale?”
“Am I over rendering the forms?”

Below are more excerpts from the student self-critiques.

“The more often I face my fears, the more I grow as an artist.”
“Everything I’ve ever thought was difficult was only difficult because I thought it was difficult.”
“I am terrified of failing to reach my potential.”
“It takes patience, and sometimes you fail.”
“Nothing is permanent and one bad work of art does not negate me as an artist.”
“It is not important to make a good drawing every time.”
“What I’ve learned will stay with me my whole life.”
“No exaggeration: this semester changed my life.”

One thought on “Self-Doubt

  1. I ask myself all these questions frequently. At first I thought they got in the way of making art, and they worried me. I assumed that they were somehow a failing, and that a real artist would not be bothered by such questions. They persisted, and somewhere along the way I accepted that this “noise”, these doubts are essential to my process and probably one of its most engaging features. I began to think that the process was as important as the end result. For me it may be more important. If anyone ever feels compelled to own one, I suppose they will be most connected to the end result, but I have found new life in the process. Not always fun, as you said, but this angst is as vital as it is inextricable.

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