Artist’s Block, Fear of Failure, and How to Break the Cycle

Question of the week….

“I draw and paint but also work full time. I want to make more time for art and also get out of this artist’s block that I seem to have been in. I think fear of failure is holding me back. Can you give me any tips on what to do to break this cycle?”

This is a common question that I get asked. It seems to be a universal dilemma for artists, and a problem we all battle from time to time. While each person is different and our varying personalities lead us to different approaches, there are some things one can do to be a better artist. Artist Lee Hammond at ArtistsNetwork.com

Here is my answer: “You either DO or you DON’T. As harsh as that seems, you are the one in the driver’s seat, and choices must be made. I’ve always worked full time in addition to raising a family, and I still was determined enough to work on art every day. One must be terribly determined and stubborn, and that’s hard to do sometimes.

I remember when I was a fledgling artist myself. I didn’t have much experience, nor did I have much confidence. My work was pretty good for the stage I was in, but it was nowhere near where I wanted it to be. (It still isn’t, which keeps me growing.) There were times, like those experienced by many other artists, that the frustration got so intense that I quit doing art for long spans of time. Believe it or not, that’s normal.

Art and creativity have always ruled my life. Even when I was not actively pursuing art back in the day, it always had a way of creeping into my life. I would be asked to help with displays at the store I worked in, or help design a flyer or poster. When I was working for the police department, I found myself getting training in forensic art. The moral of this story is that art was a part of me that was undeniable, and it had to be expressed.

In time, I found that my creativity was also insatiable. The cravings to create were just too intense, so I allowed myself the luxury of indulging in them. That was when I was at my happiest, so I decided to make art my life. After all, isn’t being happy what we are really supposed to do?

You see, it really is about choices. We CAN do and be anything we desire, if we set our minds to it. Is it always easy? Of course not! Nothing worth pursuing is easy! It’s the dogged determination and hard work that makes it a passion, and passions are always worth pursuing. Our passions are who we really are.

Even when I had to work full time, I MADE the time to draw and paint. I studied whenever I could. I set hard goals for myself, and made the decision that no matter what, I would draw at least three hours or more a day. I took correspondence art courses that I could do on my own time frame, instead of attending planned college courses. That meant late nights and tired days sometimes. Oh well. When I was raising my kids, I made them understand that my art was important, and they learned to not interrupt me, but instead, to sit down and color with me. By doing that, I didn’t take my time away from them… I shared my passion. I also hopefully taught them that it’s important to follow one’s dreams.

What I did was out of pure conviction. I made the deliberate decision to work hard, and accepted the fact that art was my driving force. I just did it! Work, kids, life … we all have that going on. What made me different was the decision I made to be an artist, and to accept that sacrifices had to be made. Any goal in life is like that. You either DO or you DON’T. You have to decide what you want, and make it happen.

As for the comment about fear of failure, well, what do you have to fear? Really think about that. Fear is just an emotion, and it only has power if we give in to it. Art is a challenge, but you’ll gain so much just by being determined to try. That feeling of accomplishment is like no other. Failure is just a frame of mind, so never forget you can override it. Knowing that not every piece is going to work like you thought is just part of the learning process. Many of my practice pieces, and some finished works now, end up in the trash can. So what? Each crumpled piece is a learning experience I had the pleasure of creating. Get over it, and keep on going! In time, you will have more successes in your work than ones that miss the mark. The unknowing is what makes it fun for me, and it makes me even more determined!

You either do or you don’t. If you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, then a life consumed by art is not for you. And that’s okay. Not all of us are supposed to make a living off of it. There are many levels to being an artist. Just be yourself and enjoy it when you do it!

Lee


Lee Hammond has been called the Queen of Drawing. That may not be fair these days, since in addition to providing the best drawing lessons, she has also created fantastic books and videos filled with the same easy to follow acrylic painting techniques, colored pencil techniques and more. Click here to see all of the instructional books and DVDs that Lee Hammond has to offer!

Free download! Easy Acrylic Painting Techniques by Lee Hammond

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