Reading a book by Robert Genn tonight, i came across this passage.
"Jane Hopkins said, 'Genius is the infinite capacity for taking pains.' I was looking at an eagle that Robert Bateman had painted, and it looked natural and beautiful. He told me that he had scraped off and re-painted the head four times to bring it to where it was. I am sorry to say there are times when most of us say, 'That will be good enough,' and it isn't."
I read that passage and it stopped me cold. "Good enough" is a concept I have struggled with all my life. Going as far back as I can remember. My mother in her warped perfectionism always pushing me beyond any rational or realistic expectation - no matter what I did - it was never quite "good enough." I was never quite good enough. No prize was ever enough; no room clean enough; no piece of music perfect enough. I spent many years sorting through these feelings of inadequacy in therapy. Trying to get to a place where I could accept for myself that something was "good enough." Through all that struggle, I often felt there was something inherently 'bad' or 'wrong' in this constant striving toward better. That I needed to learn to be ok with "good enough." I never really got there.
Tonight, i realize that there is another side to this. There was, in fact, a blessing in those horridly painful pushes toward better than good enough. I am not sure its what my mother intended. In fact, I am pretty sure she didn't intend it at all. But tonight, never the less, I find myself feeling more than a bit of gratitude. And a keen awareness that the unintended consequences of her harshness on my work are ultimately quite positive. The self-portrait which recently won first place was at least 3 other paintings before it became that strong portrait. I know from experience that I will scrape paint off and re-paint as many times as I need to, or I will burn a painting and start over before I sit back and say, "That will be good enough."