by Rick Rotante

Perfection: is it a goal we should reach? We work for excellence but when we reach for perfection and surpass excellence; do we get to the truth of what we create? Is there a truth in being perfect that makes us strive for it? Is perfection attainable? Once we reach it, what else is there for us to attain?

I have noticed when teaching, some students are understandably unhappy with what they produce. I realize when learning a new skill, there are elements in the process of learning; of creating art that still have not been mastered. So, the results often are not what we perceive as worthy. With time and effort, we gain ability and techniques and are able to produce the things within us and make coherent sense of our ideas. But is the motive of creation perfection? Or is it an ongoing discovery without the ultimate goal of being perfect.

When we are young, most are taught to always be better; to strive for excellence. But is perfection the ultimate goal of excellence? Or should we endeavor for a point, a level that has nothing to do with perfection but has more to do with truth and honesty that perfection may not contain. Personally, I’ve always felt that when I to looked at anything perceived as being perfect as dry, listless and without emotional impact. Every element was in place; colors were spot on, the idea well executed but there was something missing. To use a cliché – it was too perfect.

There is an underlying implicit finality within the word perfect. It implies there is no higher level one can achieve.

In my opinion reaching for perfection is detrimental to the whole process of creating. Perfection is an end. A level where one can not reach higher; not get any better; have no room for improvement, thereby limiting future or ongoing potential. Psychologically it may even cause us to limit our growth. Stifle creativity. Humans are certainly not perfect beings. One has only to look at the world clearly to understand this fact. So, then why seek perfection? More creative energy may have been wasted on this attribute than on any other. We can always be better but being better is not limited. There is no end point. Being better should be the goal with the knowledge and understanding that being better is the process. The entire process. Better is the goal we should aim for each time we create. Who among us has created anything we would call perfect. True, others may say those words. Would Michaelangelo, given the chance, try to repaint portions of the Sistine Chapel?

Perfection is not a goal. It is an ideal. An unachievable idea in my mind. A status for experts to label something. Create a category. For the creator it may have been a good work. Understanding and knowledge are the tools we use to be better. What is important in creating art is truth and honesty.

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