Quieting the Inner Critic When You’re Painting

by JoAnne McFarland in Sources of Inspiration
Many people have inner critics that ruin their fun, any kind of fun. The voice drills on and on—nasty, mean, super negative. I’m fortunate that my inner voice is soothing, kind, and infinitely playful. I’ve learned to always trust this voice.

Figure Out Who’s Painting


If you do enough painting, after a while a cycle emerges—maybe it’s first you absorb information, then you sketch, then discuss your concept with your inner circle, then paint, then paint some more. Emotions rise and fall throughout the process, revealing where the passion is. I feel most passionate when I’m near the end of a painting, when it needs ‘something’ and I have to figure out what that something is. I rely on my inner voice to show me. 


A Small Dedicated Circle

I have a small circle of other writers and artists that keeps me going. They give me feedback at various points in my artistic cycle. That helps me to progress. Without them I would inch along instead of occasionally soaring. The trust between us has been built over many years. I can bring my ideas to them at any time at all. However, I only show them actual work when my inner voice tells me that I can bear whatever criticism they may have to offer; that I won’t surrender my concept out of fear, or need for their approval.

Being More Curious Than Anything Else

I find that just being curious is best of all. I’m always asking myself what will happen if I sew these two pieces together, or mix these three colors, or collage this newsprint to that piece of plastic? Disciplined play, and celebrating exploring the unknown, is what has sustained me.