Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dunning–Kruger Shmunning-Kruger, that's what I say.

I'm going to be writing more of these I swear.

It's not so much that I have nothing to say, it's juts that from the days I began these blogs my perspective has changed. The more I've learned the less I have to say. Well, that's not exactly true, the more I learn the less I feel people have any interest in what I've learned. some people call this a case of "the more you know, the more you realize you don't know" psychologists call it the Dunning-Kruger effect.

From Wikipedia: The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to recognize their mistakes.The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their own abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. As Kruger and Dunning conclude, "the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others"

I spent a hell of a lot of time writing about how awesome I was. And in my defense. I'm fairly certain that I was as awesome as I said I was. But what's odd is that I can very objectively say that my competency and ability has grown by leaps and bounds, and so has my confidence. The problem is that my confidence has been moving in the opposite direction of my skills and I feel less confident in my abilities than I did 5 years ago.

How does that make sense? More importantly, as your talents and ability progresses, how does that not get worse?

There is an interesting by product of this and that is the desire to stay within a familiar subject matter, medium or in my case: size. I've undertaken a few new projects in the last few months that are larger than my usual maximum size of 11" x 14". That strikes me as odd. For some reason it is so much easier for me to work on a very very small scale. I have unwittingly become a miniature painter. Not that I'm unhappy with it, because it's been my experience that most people have the opposite problem, in so far as they cannot work small.

I am not a person who feels happy with being something because I'm scared to be something else. (although a slight exaggeration, it conveys the problem nicely.) So I attempt to work large and am almost invariably unhappy with the results. This seems unacceptable. I know that Henri Matisse felt that if he got one good painting out of twenty he was fortunate.

I am not Henri Matisse.

So because my blogging in the past has centered so fully around painting, where before I couldn't stop shouting it, now I'm inclined to hide in my studio and share very little of what I'm doing. Which as I said above makes very little cognitive sense.

I know other painters post progress shots and explanations of how and what they do for the benefit of their followers and collectors. At the moment I have very few of both (I do have some collectors, but am not entirely sure they are the type to read blogs such as this.) so it seems pointless.

But is it?

When I was first painting I scoured, positively scoured the internet for any useful information about painting and I found very little of it. Seeing somebody else working through the problems I was dealing with would have been tremendously helpful. I do miss teaching and perhaps this is will prove a viable way for me to pass information out into the ether.

So, starting as soon as I finish the current painting I'm working on (which I'm not inclined to let anybody see at the moment) I'm going to squeeze as much technical information into this blog as I can without it being mind numbingly boring.

I said it before, but this time I mean it:

Watch this space.


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