Why “Is My Art Good Enough” Isn’t the Question

How many times have you asked yourself whether your art is good enough?  It’s the nature of the artist that we constantly analyze our own work.  We have brief moments of loving what just came off the easel, before being driven to get back to it and to take the next piece even further.

Whenever I catch myself thinking this way, I shut it down and force myself to just go paint.   Because the real question is, what is this particular piece of art good enough for?

Here’s a typical progression for an art career (whether starting at age 7 or 70!):

  1. For a while, you’ll make some good bonfire fodder (you’ll know cause you’ll cringe when you look at it!)
  2. Then, you’ll make something that your family will want to hang up
  3. Friends will start asking for copies, or even paying for originals
  4. Your friends and family will start asking for commissions
  5. You’ll start to show in local restaurants and coffee shops
  6. Strangers will start to buy your art (yay!)
  7. You’ll start to show in group shows
  8. You may start to enter juried shows and competitions
  9. You’ll realize that you’re gaining Collectors (thank you, Collectors!!)
  10. You’ll shift your focus onto increasing the quality of your materials, the quality of your finished product, and your production rate
  11. You’ll be able to support a solo show
  12. You’ll take your portfolio to galleries
  13. You, and a gallery, will find a good fit.
  14. And then you’ll spend your life trying to make at least one REALLY good picture – one “good enough” for the ages!

Damn, and just when I was starting to get it!

Edgar Degas, on his deathbed, 1917

Note that you may bounce around between these numbers, with today’s work being good enough for a solo show, and tomorrow’s being good enough to gift to your Great-Aunt with dementia (and vice-versa).

So “good enough” is a moving target that we can only enjoy for brief moments.  Better to just sit back and enjoy the painting process itself!

Back to the drawing board (best place in the world!),


PS – If you want a good laugh, head over to the Museum of Bad Art, where even your bonfire fodder may find a loving home!

Is my Art Good Enough
Degas could hardly see when he painted this – but it’s still so beautiful. He was just starting to think he was “good enough”.


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