Why I Focus on Curiosity, Not Critique

I’ve changed many of my mindsets over the past few years. But if I had to pin-point the one mindset shift that changed my art (and my life) the most, it would be this:

Focusing on Curiosity rather than Critique.

Before making this shift, I would look at my art with a constant eye for critique. I would see all my mistakes and only my mistakes. I would see all the lines that didn’t lay down how I had wanted them to. All the colors that didn’t mesh together as I had hoped they would. All the hands that turned out totally wonky.

But I’ve learned over the years, that what you look for is what you find. So by microscopically focusing on my mistakes, I found more mistakes. I tensed up, judged my work harshly, saw only my errors, and then, created more errors.

I think many people believe looking at their work critically is how they will grow. But when it comes to art, having a constant critical eye is actually debilitating.

At some point, I just sat down at my desk and said to myself, “to heck with it!” I started drawing with a new focus: Curiosity. And that’s when I began to see my mistakes differently.

Each jagged line transformed from an error that needed to be erased into a curiosity beckoning to be followed.

Each awkward color morphed from a mistake that needed to be Photoshopped into a peculiarity asking to be given a chance.

And each wonky hand shifted from a flaw into a possibility begging to be considered.

This mindset shift from Critique to Curiosity did not magically make me a better artist. I still make plenty of mistakes. In fact, I probably make more mistakes now than I did before. But that’s because I’m drawing more.

Instead of getting caught up in everything that’s wrong with my art, I choose to focus on what’s possible with my art.