[Please note that all images in this post are either by me or John Tenniel from his illustrations for Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass and taken from “Annotated Alice”. Tenniel’s illustrations are in the public domain…and better than mine.]
I love to read books and look at art. I love to read books about art. It is inspirational to see what others are doing and the way they solve problems. I observe, “This is how this person showed texture. That was how that person created a relatable character.”
Sometimes I just like to take it all in and try to enter the world they created. Or try to understand what the work is trying to tell me. Or what the author or artist was trying to say.
But sometimes there are bad days where I look at or read something wonderful and I think, “I could never do that. Why am I even trying?”
Tenniel’s “Annotated Alice” p. 184 and 185. Tenniel’s illustrations are on top and mine are on bottom. You can see more comparisons between his originals and my reproductions in the flipbook at the bottom of this post.
These are days where the distance between where I am and where I want to be seems immense. Impossible. Comparisons can be discouraging, especially on days where nothing I do seems to go well.
It may seem obvious that comparisons like this aren’t helpful. I am comparing the practice work I do at home while I’m learning to something someone did after they’d put all the practice time and learning time in.
I may be right, and the work I’m figuratively hitting myself with will always be beyond my skill. I may be wrong. In any case, it’s impossible to know right now.
I once read that comparisons are like climbing a mountain. When you look up, the top of the mountain seems so far away. But, you can get there, if you keep climbing.
I think that if you’re always looking up, it’s hard to appreciate where you are right now. On discouraging days, it might help to look back for a moment and see how far you’ve come. If you can get this far, why not a little farther? Just keep going. Better days will come.
What do you think? Do you sometimes have a problem with comparisons? What helps you when you feel discouraged?