1. You want it all…right now
There’s so many components with learning how to paint – there’s how to draw, how to mix up colours, how to shade, how to use the material, how to develop a style and so on. You want to be on step 42, when you’re physically on step 2.
I often catch myself doing the same thing in business and art where I’m so busy focused on what’s ahead, I’m not concentrating on the now which is purely wasted energy. It’s like expecting and or worrying about the harvesting schedule before you’ve even planted the first seed. You don’t need to schedule the harvest yet, but you do need to plant a seed.
2. You discount your progress
You’ve just finished a painting of something that felt out of reach, it pushed your comfort zone, you’ve poured hours of time into it but when someone comments how glorious it is, you discount the entire thing with ‘it’s not as good as it could be.’
Does this response sound familiar?
I’ve said this time and time again during my six years in creative teaching, but I can probably never say it enough: Art is a process that’s meant to be ever-evolving. You’re exactly where you should be, and that’s amazing, your painting is as good as it can be right now, it’s much better than you could have done a year ago and it’s a massive accomplishment to have surpassed your previous comfort zone.
Next time, just say ‘thank you, I worked hard on this, I’ve learned so much from it and can’t wait to see how that effects my next painting.’
3. You assume people will think the worst
Creating art can feel like a truly vulnerable act. It’s on show and you fear that everyone’s eyes will secretly scan and belittle your efforts with condescending criticisms.
But, here’s the truth – everyone is secreting plotting to support you.
Here’s what they’re really thinking. ‘I love what she’s done here, those colour choices are great, I wish I could paint or draw in that style. He’s improving so quickly, I wish I was as quick a learner, it took me months to get to that point.’
Don’t believe me?
Think about how you look at other’s work and the kindness you bestow – other people are mirroring that kindness right back at you. For example, consider when you hear others put down their own work, yet all you can see are the good points - the same applies to you. People aren’t seeing the ‘bad’ parts of your pictures that you see, because they’re too busy focusing on the good.
4. You Compare
When you compare your first artwork to those who are a little further ahead than you and feel disheartened, you’re likely being far too hard on yourself and not giving yourself a realistic playing field. As Jon Accuf wisely counsels, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”
But not only that, if you expect to be as good as them straight away then you’re not acknowledging the hard work it’s taken them to get there. Instead, talk to them and ask what they did and learned through the process of improving and use that to inspire your creative journey.
5. You seek perfection
I’m about to reveal a mind-blowing truth, so hold onto your hat:
Your artwork does not need to be perfect, robots and computers do that - humans create the imperfect and there’s a simple formula to improving your beautifully imperfect artwork:
Spend consistent time creating.
Find people a little ahead of you and learn from them
Then just continue to improve and optimize numbers 1 and 2 and your artwork will progress, simple.
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