It’s the last 10% that makes all the difference

It’s the last 10% that makes all the difference

The recent deluge on the east coast of Australia has given me plenty of time to create artwork in my studio. And it seems that my obsession with flowers has continued like this Luscious Peony above!

It’s the last 10% that makes all the difference
For me, creating artwork is a bit like a lot of projects we take on in life. It’s the last 10% that can make all the difference.

You can get to the 90% mark and, to the vast majority of people, it’s already looking pretty good. I’ve had people see my work at that stage and they already want to buy it. But I can’t let it go because I just know that the final 10% will take it to the next level.

It’s an approach that has been popularised with platitudes like:

  • “It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to get done.”


  • The concept of the “minimum viable product” from the bestselling book The Lean Startup which says you can just release a product that’s “just good enough” and then iterate and improve future versions.   

I disagree with the above approaches. 
While I DO believe that there is a place for the above attitudes in certain industries (like some software and apps), retrofitting these ideas into other areas is just silly. It fools people into thinking that it’s ok to do the minimum, to offer up substandard work and to reach for a benchmark that’s just “good enough”.

Most of the time, the last 10% of an artwork I’m painting takes just as long as the first 90%! And when it leaves my studio to go to its forever home, I want to know that I’ve pored over every petal, paid attention to every fold and am happy with every shade of colour.

Don’t get me wrong. I doubt believe in being a tortured artist who suffers for their art either. If I’m not enjoying the process, I have to put it away and do something else for a while. Life’s too short to be stressed out by your creative pursuits – these activities should bring energy and joy!

In other news … here’s what I’ve been doing:

Watching: The Dropout on Disney+. This is the dramatisation of the true story of Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, once a darling of Silicon Valley when it was valued at over $1 billion. Her rise and fall and fraud conviction has been played out in headlines, a podcast and bestselling book by John Carreyrou. And now Amanda Seyfried does an incredible job portraying Elizabeth in this TV series.

Reading: The Good Mother, a thriller by Sydney-based author Rae Cairns. Apart from the excellent writing, I love the background to this book. Rae first self-published this book and it became so popular (and won awards) that it caught the eye of publishing behemoth HarperCollins and has now been released under their banner.

Splitting into two: My instagram! Why? Because the work I do in surface design is so specific that I realise it only appeals to a certain group of people – typically those interested in textiles, fabrics, pattern and design. As a result, I’ve created a new Instagram account that will track ONLY my work in surface design. My regular instagram account will focus on my paintings and life in general. It feels a lot neater thi way!

Excited about: Expanding! Regular readers know that in parallel to my passion for art, I lead a double life with my work at the Australian Writers' Centre. And I’m looking for two new team members. An Assistant Project Manager and a Customer Support and Sales Assistant. If you know someone who’d like to joining an exciting business, please do feel free to pass on the above links ;)

Tweaking: My website. It’s challenging to keep my website up to date with my available artwork (because, quite frankly, I’d rather be painting!) so, at this point, I’ve figured out that the best way to do that is to regularly update a PDF on this page.

Until next time, have a creative week!

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