The Dangers of Comparing

I have taught art for many years and realise that it should be a personal journey,  one of the joys of the subject to teach is that nobody’s work is the same.  It is a great shame when learners start comparing their work to others and in many cases it steals all the joy and creativity out of the work, so why do we do it?

Two friends drawing
It can be hard not to compare your art.

Learning with a group of others has many benefits and you can learn so much such as new techniques, ways of using colour, composition and so one,  but as soon as you start to compare your work with theirs unfavourably it is a downhill journey.  I have taught many classes full of very talented learners and every now and then one or two tell me the can’t continue as they just ‘don’t feel good enough’. 

Art class
Try not to compare and let it get you down

Art is a strange subject in that the progress we made can take years without any obvious results at first, some start and seem to quickly develop then reach a plateau while others work away for years with a steady progress, it seems to be different for everyone. 

Confidence in art
Talented others can really knock our confidence if we fall into the trap of comparing.

A very talented young man joined a course once who excelled in all the drawing activities but as soon as we covered pastels and colour he seemed to become withdrawn and angry. 

He left the class early and later got in touch telling me he wouldn’t be back due to being the ‘worst in the group’.  This learner didn’t consider that he had many strengths where he found it easier than others in the group and as soon as he did experience an area that was more challenging he took off.

Drawing in a sketchpad
Challenges are all part of the journey of improving

One way of overcoming comparison is to think about your own personal reasons for doing art. What were your personal goals?  Do you enjoy art when you aren’t comparing your work with others?

It might be worth developing your work at home and start sharing it in a small way on an online forum before you launch yourself into a group class setting. 

Have you compared yourself with others in art classes?  Share your experiences below…

One thought on “The Dangers of Comparing

  1. I think it’s pretty hard to entirely avoid comparing yourself to others in in-person classes. Most of the time it doesn’t affect me too much; I just try my best to focus on my own work. I also remind myself that I’m there to learn. Our teacher taught us the helpful saying, “it’s impossible to look good and get better at the same time”. 🙂

    I notice some people are really down on themselves though, and often I can’t see why. I usually find something that I really like in their work. I find it inspiring to be in a class and see such different work from everyone, even though we might all be using the same reference image or still life.

    Like

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