Bad Art, Buddha and the Gifts of Imperfection

I am sure you will agree that there is a lot of amazing art to be found online. There are talented drawers, painters, mixed media artists, textile artists, sculptors…and it’s easy to get into the mindset of “who do I think I am, sharing my feeble attempts at art when there is so much quality work out there?” I know I feel like this at times. I recently came across Brene Brown’s work, and in particular her book “The Gifts of Imperfection” and I feel much better about making art, and about sharing it. In her chapter on creativity, she talks about the importance of letting go of comparison in relation to our creativity. As she says this is “not a to-do list item. For most of us, it’s something that requires constant awareness. It’s easy to take our eyes off our path to check out what others are doing and if they’re ahead or behind us”. I am trying to cultivate this awareness. I am trying to approach looking at others’ work in a spirit of interest and appreciation rather than with a feeling of “I’d never be able to do something as great as that”. And to realise that it’s ok to share my work, however imperfect, in the hope that others will share theirs, however imperfect, and that we can all understand that our creativity cannot be compared.

In this spirit, I share with you my second attempt at a watercolour-only piece which is this little painting of a Buddha head statue that I did. It’s far from perfect, but I enjoyed painting it 🙂


Some might say it is “bad art” but so what! Listening to Grayson Perry’s recent Reith Lectures, I found myself nodding in agreement with his answer to an audience member’s question as to whether it is important to be a good artist or can you be a bad artist:

It’s important to make art because the people that get the most out of art are the ones that make it. It’s not … You know there’s this idea that you go to a wonderful art gallery and it’s good for you and it makes you a better person and it informs your soul, but actually the person who’s getting the most out of any artistic activity is the person who makes it because they’re sort of expressing themselves and enjoying it, and they’re in the zone and you know it’s a nice thing to do. So I don’t think it’s important to be a good artist, no, unless you really want to be one and it can be very painful if you aren’t.

So express yourself, enjoy yourself and don’t worry if it is “good” or “bad” 😉

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15 thoughts on “Bad Art, Buddha and the Gifts of Imperfection

  1. annjrippin says:

    I thought Grayson Perry was fantastic in those lectures. I would love to have a cup of tea with him, I think it would restore the soul.

  2. Phil Davis says:

    I love your post, I am an artist and teacher constantly trying to explain to my students that their work is far better than they think, in fact sometimes outstanding, while I beat myself up about my own work by comparing it to other , in my opinion, brilliant artists. If somebody likes a piece of art, then it is good as far as they are concerned and nobody else’s opinion matters.

  3. Funny, just before I read this post I found an “emerging artist” online whose work I love…what happened next is so typical….I just started comparing. Then I stumbled across this post. It is a wonderful reminder to all artist that we create art because it feeds our soul and I wonderful reminder to me to STOP comparing!!!! LOL

  4. Jane A says:

    Great post, Viv! I thoroughly enjoyed Grayson Perry’s recent talks too – I think my favourite was the last one, the most personal, in which he talks about art as a sanctuary for the person who creates it. And by the way, I think that Buddha head is very good! Tranquil to contemplate it.

  5. You’ve really got to the heart of such an important issue. It’s a very instinctive thing to compare ourselves to others (establishing the pecking order so we know where we fit in our community) but since we don’t need that for survival any more it’s something that I think is best unlearned. I create, whatever it is I’m making, more for myself than anyone else and if others get pleasure from it, then that’s all jam. Love your Buddha head not only because I love the texture of the watercolour but also because you obviously enjoyed creating it. :o) And thanks for that Hokusai poem link – I love that too!!

    • vivjm says:

      I like the idea that we create for our own pleasure and if anyone else likes it, that’s a bonus. It does seem to take some effort to “unlearn” the comparing thing – it’s a work in progress for me!

  6. Yvonne says:

    This is a great article and I have felt those sentiments myself about comparing to others. However, I try and focus on the enjoyment I get out of my art and forget the rest! I love your beautiful Buddha! Gorgeous shades of yellow. Very inspiring. Thanks for bringing up this difficult subject 🙂

    • vivjm says:

      Thanks for your comment Yvonne. I think you are right to emphasise the enjoyment you get from creating art and forget the rest.
      I am flattered that you like my Buddha painting 🙂

  7. Ben Naga says:

    This advice can be applied to a number areas, with similar truth and usefulness.

  8. magpie says:

    found your blog through EM. your Buddha radiates serenity and wisdom. in no universe could the word ‘bad’ apply. this post resonates with me in many ways and I’ll be googling your references and checking amazon (should amazoning be a word?). my recent post (complete with Buddhas!)
    has me questioning in much the same way.

I will reply to comments here on the blog, so please check back if you are looking for a response! I love hearing from you x

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