The Inner Critic

Most people have an inner critical voice that can undermine one’s confidence. As a woman, this voice can be constant and reinforced by everything we see in society. As an artist, it can fill you with doubt about your work.


Life is hard enough, let alone to be undermined by your own subpersonality. As women, we should definitely turn down the volume on that inner critic. As artists, we can turn that inner critic into an inner guide.


When I am working on a piece, I usually reach a point where I want to quit, throw down the brush and walk away. That is when the inner is critic filling me with doubt about my vision and ability. However, as an artist this is the point where learning and discovery begin. When I reach this point in painting, I stand back and look at the work and ask myself, “What is hard? Why do I want to quit?” That observation and questioning process might be a few minutes, or might be a few weeks with that painting propped up in a corner of the studio. I turn that critic into a guide to push me through the next steps to finishing the work. The guide might help me to see that I need to learn a new technique; or I need a different material; maybe I have a mistake in my drawing or composition that has to be fixed before I can move on. Some work never resolves itself no matter what I do. I feel that if I can make 6 good works out of every 10 then I am on the right track. Those four not-good works are lessons that can be painted over, repurposed, etc. 


I used to teach painting and drawing to both children and adults. Children rarely doubt themselves, so teaching them was more about introducing new materials and encouraging their creativity. With the adults, I would watch the students for that point where the "flow" would break, and they would get antsy. This indicated that their inner critic was getting too loud. That is when I would step in with some guidance or an art tool to help them look at their work with an objective eye.


The inner guide subpersonality is much kinder than the inner critic. We all need some kindness guiding us through our creative process.



Be kind to yourself; mute the critic and start a subpersonality discussion with your inner guide. 


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