Perfectionism among painters

Are you concerned by the following questions?

  • Do you want to try your hand at abstract painting but are stuck?
  • Are you unable to finish your paintings because you find that they are never “finished”?
  • Are you in the habit of starting a painting but never finishing it?

Yes ? Ouch… I think then that like many contemporary painters, you may be a perfectionist!

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism refers to a person’s habit of systematically striving for perfection.

salvador dali's quote on perfection

The evils of perfectionism

Perfectionism can be harmful, because it will tire you out trying to achieve a goal that ultimately doesn’t exist.

It’s anxiety-provoking, puts you under pressure, stresses you out and, above all, wastes a lot of your time!

Perfectionism among contemporary painters

Contemporary painters, like us abstract painters, are extremely affected by perfectionism.

Indeed, the practice of abstract art means that we can often work towards an undefined goal. And this can accentuate doubt and the desire to strive for a “perfect” work.

Perfectionism, the enemy of creativity

Perfectionism is a real enemy of creativity. It’s going to prevent or limit letting go, and I find that’s essential for making an abstract painting.

Fear of failure and procrastination?

Perfectionism may reflect a fear of failure. For example, you keep putting off the end of your painting, refusing to take responsibility and sign it.

This is clearly a form of procrastination. Procrastination is the simple act of systematically putting things off until tomorrow).

On this subject, I recommend that you consult my article: ” How to have self-confidence when you’re a painter “, in which I talk about imposter syndrome.

My tips for overcoming perfectionism as an artist

Get rid of your perfectionism once and for all! Here are a few tips I recommend:

  • Finish your paintings and never start a second one until you’ve finished the first!
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself!
  • Stop believing that there’s only one solution, that everything is either black or white and that you have to aim for a single goal/result!
  • When you feel you’re going round in circles on your board: set it aside for a few hours and then come back to it. I can assure you that you’ll see your painting in a whole new light!

And I’ll end with an expression I’m particularly fond of:


What about you? Are you a perfectionist? I’d love to hear your stories and anecdotes in the comments! Thank you in advance.