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Brown Supplement: Best Piece of Advice. "Side Effects of Perfect"


zwei 1 / 1  
Dec 28, 2010   #1
What is the best piece of advice you've been given and why?

So brown is my absolute dream school and i think that pressure made me over edit and over analyze this essay. And that's really unfortunate. Here was the thought process I was trying to convey. i don't think i was too successful:

When I started this off, I wanted everything to be perfect. I am a perfectionist.
I was so worried about everything being perfect that I had a hard time doing my piece.
Because I was afraid of making mistakes.
Until my RC taught me that it is okay to make mistakes, because that is how we learn.
So I stopped worrying about the mistakes that I could be making, and instead focused on making the art.
And while it was not the "perfect" piece I initially wanted, that was okay.
Because I will learn from that piece when I create my next work of art.
And consistently get better.
And that is how I look at life.

I was struggling the with 500 word limit...as you can probably tell, i like rambley sentences :(

This past summer, I attended the Maryland Institute College of Art Pre-College Studio Residency program. Four weeks packed into a campus crawling with the most talented teen artists in America was a formula for competition and I was set on having the perfect piece to display at the program's culminating art show.

It was also at this Pre-College that I picked up oil painting for the first time. Having been accustomed to the smooth, gliding agility of the pencil for years, the blocky, layered technique of oil paints was a culture shock. This was a problem. In fact, I was so worried about everything being perfect that I had a hard time doing my piece. While working on my final self portrait, there were times when I would hover my paintbrush in random ellipses for a few minutes before cautiously dabbing on a smidgen of paint. Other times I'd stare at one of those smidgens of paint with regret and spend the next hour unfixing what I was attempting to fix. Honestly, sometimes I contemplated tearing the whole thing up and starting over.

Towards the end of a particularly frustrating studio time, Nicole, my resident counselor, popped into my room to do "tuck-ins." The look on my face must have reflected my distraught mood.

"So why is this particular assignment causing you so much trouble?" she asked.
"I'm afraid of making a mistake! One wrong stroke and my nose will look like a pig's. One thoughtless color choice and I'll look like a carrot. I don't want to make ugly paintings," I realized.

"I have never hated anything I've made. Not even the ugly ones! Because even then, I learned from my mistakes. I learned what not to do for future pieces and that's how you grow as an artist."

After Nicole left and the air cleared, I situated myself in front of my canvas again. I never noticed how far my fear had spread. I had let my perfectionism fester in a way that kept me from producing art at all. So I stopped. I mean it. I stopped worrying about the mistakes that I could be making and instead focused solely on painting fearlessly.

At the exhibition, I displayed my canvas proudly and while it was not the "perfect" piece I initially wanted, that was okay. Today, I look fondly upon my first self portraiture's slightly upturned nose and the skin's carrot hue because I know that painting was the stepping stone for many better and more appropriately colored paintings in the future. After all, there wouldn't have been any improved second painting, better third painting, or finally-self-satisfying tenth painting if the disastrous first didn't exist. Nicole was right. Taking a risk by allowing myself to make mistakes gave me the chance to learn from them and improve. That process was worth so much more than any "perfect" painting. Like an oil painting, life is not one coat of perfection. A brilliant painting is created through layers upon layers of an artist's time and experimentation. Yes, some of those layers could have once been ugly, but to erase any layer would take detract from its beauty. Today, I don't want to remove any of my cherished mistakes if that puts to risk the lessons that have instilled in me courage and determination. I am who I am today because of those "ugly" mistakes; as an artist, as a person, as a painting, complete.
cdyal87 3 / 15  
Dec 28, 2010   #2
The second sentence is missing a comma. "Four weeks packed into a campus crawling with the most talented teen artists in America was a formula for competition, and I was set on having the perfect piece to display at the program's culminating art show." They're two independent sentences so they should be seperate with a common and a subordinative conjuction(which you already have). You could even make the proceeding sentence stand out by saying yet instead of and: exemplifying your ability and determination to display the best piece of art amongst the "most talented teen artist in America". I would also consider revising the beginning part: four weeks were packed into a campus crawling...? Perhaps you could say four weeks of a thriving campus crawling?

"...because I know that painting was the stepping stone for many better and more appropriately colored paintings in the future." I believe this sentence could increase in clarity and essence by giving further detail to "painting": "...because I know that being able to make a mistake while painting". This supports what you previously posited. Also, you might want to consider revising "many better and more", it seems "off" a bit. You would use many when counting objects and you use it here to modify better which is used for comparing. Also, more appropriately is grammatically incorrect. You never combine more with an adverb ending in 'ly.

I hope this helps, and thanks for your criticism on my essay:)
Cindy Dyal
richardaddo 1 / 12  
Dec 28, 2010   #3
So I stopped. I mean it. Frankly, I do not think this part is really necessary as the following sentence goes to say the same thing.

You have a great essay there. Thanks for commenting on mine.


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