We’ve all been there. It’s that moment in time when an art project seems to have gotten the best of us, and we’re stuck. Not knowing what to do, we stumble along, making mistakes, and reworking things until we have an even bigger mess. Do you pitch it and start over? Do you continue muddling along to try to learn how to fix it? Unfortunately, there is no good answer here, unless of course you have damaged it beyond repair. I’ve been known to erase right through the paper to the tabletop! We all know it’s just a piece of paper, or a single canvas, but it gets inside of us. It gnaws at us, making us come to believe we are not good at what we do. Let the self-loathing begin!
I receive many emails from fellow frustrated artists. “What do I do, Lee? I’ve hit the artistic wall!” If you’ve sent me an email like this, you’re not alone! Lack of confidence from time to time is perfectly normal. I still have bouts of insecurity! (Hard to believe I know–wink) There are still times when I feel as if I couldn’t draw myself out of a bag!
What I’ve learned over the years though, is that making mistakes, and making huge messes out of things, is just part of being an artist. Being frustrated makes you try even harder. Insecurity can actually be a good thing! It’s a sign that you are growing. When you no longer are satisfied with your work it simply means you want more. It’s a GOOD sign, for it means that you have reached a new place in your skill level, and you are moving up. Don’t give in to insecurity… use it. Never give up. (Editor’s note: Inspired? Click here to share this with your friends on Facebook and spread Lee’s positive message!)
I’ve found that when I become dissatisfied with my work, I become determined. I stubbornly forge ahead. Sometimes I deliberately switch to a different medium or subject matter, just to take a break from the original disaster. A little success with something else can often jumpstart me to return to the problem project. It’s then that I often find the solution. It’s amazing what a fresh perspective can bring. Sometimes I literally rip a piece off the wall, yank it out of the frame and improve it! It’s a sign of artistic growth.
I know it’s difficult to not take bad outcomes personally, but that’s what we do. To truly succeed as an artist, you must move through it, and know that art isn’t easy. If it was, EVERYONE would be doing it! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There is a reason they call it Art-WORK!
Take a little helpful advice from someone who is self-taught, and still gets the irritation often associated with a new project. Never give up! Start over if you must, but DO NOT QUIT! Part of the artistic process is making mistakes. The learning part comes from those mistakes. And growing as an artist requires you to continually make them. Look at your fumbles as your friends, nudging you along to become a better artist. After all, if you don’t grow, and keep doing the same old thing, what’s the point? You might as well go to work in an art factory, and make the same stroke on the canvas day after day, just to get a paycheck. I will continue to try new and different things in art until the day I croak! Experiment, make mistakes, indulge in a little self-loathing from time to time, and get over it! I am an artist, and artists struggle. It’s that simple.
Now, go to your work area and make some mistakes… Remember, it’s all in a days WORK! (Art-WORK that is!)
Until next week!
Edited by Cherie Haas, online editor of ArtistsNetwork.com
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