Often when I am painting I have to get up close to my paintings to see the details. Sometimes I get so caught up in the details that I start to be extra critical of a single brush stroke or a particular section of a painting. This can be very discouraging as I sometimes think that I have ruined the painting. Case in point, this eagle below I almost threw it in the garbage.
I painted this while I was visiting family in Utah. At the time I was hyper focused on the background not working correctly, and the individual brush strokes in the face, feeling like either there were too many or they were in the wrong spots. My mom on the other hand saw a beautiful painting. Consequently, she has a beautiful eagle painting. Stepping back from the painting, and days later however, I had a new perspective. Instead of seeing small details, I saw the whole picture and realized, while there are things I would change about the picture, like the color of the background, I really did like how it turned out overall.
Often in life we tend to hyper focus on the details and forget to look at the bigger picture. In my Church we talk about having an eternal perspective. Remembering that this life is temporary and that there are greater things to come if we try to live a good life here. That’s quite a long outlook, and can be hard for people to fathom. But I find that even looking 5 or 10 years into the future, deciding whether what we are doing currently will impact our future, is a great way to stop focusing so much on the little details of every day and to get out and live life to the best of our ability.
When my kids were little I would go to bed discouraged sometimes, because I focused so much on the things I hadn’t gotten done, or the incidents throughout the day where I could have handled a situation better and didn’t. But when I could step back and look at the good things that happened, or how well my kids behaved when we were out in the world, I realized I must be doing at least a little better than I often thought I did. Some of the observation has to be the 20/20 hindsight as well. Sweet memories created help me to see the good that was created and the fun we had and continue to have, and I find that I don’t remember the little things I could have done better anymore as I observe where we were and how far we’ve come.
Life can be hard, there are little things we do need to focus on in our day to day lives. But stepping back can often give us a better perspective, help us adjust course as needed, and see how far we have actually come. There are no perfect paintings, at least not in the eyes of the painter, but when we step back and look at the picture as a whole, it becomes beautiful. I encourage you to step back and observe, it might just make all the difference.