Art is supposed to be relaxing, or if not relaxing, at least a release. Many artists paint therapeutically, to find an outlet for depression, stress, and anxiety. Others use painting as a simple escape from their everyday life. What we all have in common, no matter why we paint, is that we all hold the ability to create something beautiful within us, regardless of whether the final product turns out the way we hoped it would or not.
Art isn’t a competitive activity, but it’s often made to seem that way. Trying to create a beautiful painting just for the sake of being “better” than other artists will never lead to a successful piece; at least not in the ways that it truly counts.
In this edition of Pour it Out, we’re going to talk about the green monster in our group; art envy.
Let’s first define art envy. In this article, we’ll be using art envy to describe the feeling of resentment or sadness when viewing another artist’s work, usually brought about by feelings of insecurity and inferiority.
Basically, art envy is when you’re jealous of another artist’s work.
Is art envy destructive, or useful? It can be both, but it’s up to you to decide how you’ll use your discontentment with your work. Which path will you take?
Use Your Art Envy
If you see a piece and you love it, if you see a thriving art business and you want the same, use this art envy not to degrade your own skills, but to fuel them. If anything, your art envy can drive you to experiment and hone your techniques. It can push you to stop putting off starting an art business and make it happen.
If you find yourself in a position of envy, don’t let it stop you…let it propel you.
The Art Envy Uses You
If you see beautiful work and you feel resentful towards the artist, throw out your paints and angrily declare that you are the worst artist ever, you’re letting your envy get the best of you. So often, even in our group, we see comments from those sharing their pieces like, “it’s not as good as so-and-so’s” or “I tried to use this artist’s technique, but I failed”.
Did you fail, or did you learn what didn’t work? Art isn’t a life or death situation; it isn’t surgery. If you mess up, you can scrape it and try again, or paint over it. Failure, in art, is not the end.
Art Isn’t Copy-Able
Acrylic pouring isn’t a copy, paste, and print technique. Original pieces depend on so many conditions – some of those conditions are controllable, some are not.
If you’re trying to directly copy another artist’s painting exactly, you’re not learning anything. Be inspired by the amazing pieces around you! By all means, try to create a painting in your own style, with your own colors; use other pieces as a jumping-off point.
If you set out to copy another artist’s painting, you’ll feel like a failure if it doesn’t look exactly the same. Remember: inspiration, not imitation.
Even within our Acrylic Pouring Facebook Group, we see jealousy. The thing is, being resentful of someone else’s work because you think it’s better than your work isn’t going to make you a better artist! Remember that if you need help with a technique, or which products to use, or whatever is troubling you with your art, you can always ask the group. Chances are, one of our nearly 100k artists can help you!
Sara Wagner is an author and artist from Upstate New York. She is the owner of Studio Blackwater and can typically be found covered in paint, cats, or her two young daughters. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram as @studioblackwater.
7 thoughts on “Pour it Out: How to Deal with Art Envy ?”
Great article that is spot on!
Great article and something I needed to read and really take to heart. Thank you!
I needed this article. Thank you.
It may surprise some people, that what someone is trying to copy may be viewed as a failure by its owner. Or that the painting was completely by accident. I sometimes look at others work and wonder how on earth did they create such a stunning piece of work!!! “Only to find out that the owner/artist hasn’t the slightest idea, as it just happened”. Or they themselves look at other works and are trying to imitate someone else’s work and felt that they themselves as failures. We should learn to judge our own work on its own merits not someone else’s.
Envy and imitation rob us of joy, the joy of the creative process.
great article inspiration is the key
There is NO way to copy any artists process, there are too many variables. Attempting to replicate someone else’s technique is more like learning from someone you admire.