It’s a question every artist is familiar with: Am I good enough?
In this first episode of Artists Network’s Art Bound podcast, host Doug Kacena sits down with two incredible artists, Daisy Patton and Quang Ho, to discuss dealing with the fear of failure, imposter syndrome, perfectionism, and insecurity as an artist.
About the Artists
Daisy Patton is a multi-disciplinary artist who was born in Los Angeles, California, to a mother from the South and an Iranian father she never met. She spent her childhood between California and Oklahoma, deeply affected by these conflicting cultural ways of being. Influenced by collective and political history, as well as memory and the fallibility of the body, Patton’s work explores the meaning and social conventions of families, relationship, storytelling and story-carrying, and also connection. One prominent series, Forgetting is so long, has been featured in publications such as Hyperallergic, The Jealous Curator, The Denver Post, The Chautauquan Daily, and more. See more of her work at
daisypatton.com and on her Instagram page, @daisy_patton.
Quang Ho is a master artist in both Oil Painters of America and American Impressionists Society. He’s a prominent teacher and resident artist at the Art Student League of Denver, and he splits his time between his studios in Denver and Pennsylvania. See more of his work at quangho.com and on his Instagram page, @quanghoart.
In this conversation between artists, Patton and Ho share their specific insecurities and fears about the work they create and how it might be perceived by the world and their harshest critics, themselves.
The Voice of Fear
Daisy Patton: I regularly think to myself, “I may be a good painter, but am I making mediocre paintings?”, which is devastating to think about.
Quang Ho: If you make a decision when you’re painting, it’s always correct. It’s when you don’t make a decision that fear is involved. If you get to a point where you don’t know what to do and you wait for an impulse — if you trust that impulse and make a decision, it’s always correct. It doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind about it and make another decision on top of that. But fear will cripple you. Fear controls our lives in every aspect — but it’s not real. It’s not based on truth in a universal sense. Once I realized that, I started looking deeper.
DP: I have to make a bad painting. If I haven’t made a bad painting in a while, it makes me really nervous! I usually try to get my bad paintings out on a smaller scale (because I work on a very large scale — they’re all life-size figures). I try to have a portion of work that is my experiment, my play section. That’s where I get my bad paintings out. If you’re in a creative field of any kind and you’re trying to make artwork that is genuine and has some quality to it, you have to make some bad work to go with it.
QH: My bad paintings come whether I like it or not!
QH: Perfectionism slows you down. There is no such thing as perfect. There’s a point where I’ll know if I’ve done something good, and it has nothing to do with perfectionism. It was far from perfect. It’s like composing a great orchestral piece; you can have all these different movements, melodies, and notes, but in the end it’s how they flow together. Some days it all flows together — and other days I’m chiseling and chiseling. It’s not really perfection, but you just know it when it’s good. For me, doing a good painting is very difficult. And that’s why I’m in there working every day hoping something will happen.
DP: I think that perfection is an impossibility. If I were to make the perfect painting I would never paint again, so the idea of trying to reach something that is absolutely perfect is a great way to never work again! To be a good painter you have to have the humility of knowing that you’re going to fail, that your work may not get to a certain point you want it to be at a certain time. For me right now, I work at a fairly fast pace, and I’m thinking outside of specific career goals. There’s sort of a legacy I’m trying to create with my work.
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