Ways You’re Killing Your Progress

So you’ve had a bad day drawing or you just can’t seem to get a technique with a particular medium. Why are you even bothering? Your work clearly sucks especially when you compare yourself to other artists on social media right? Um no…let’s pump the brakes on the self-hate train and back up a sec.

Being an artist and creating art is not a sprint. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen or heard people horribly berate themselves because of where their skill level is at. Here’s the thing, you may feel like it’s true, or maybe you’re looking for a compliment but the fact of the matter is, when you say things like that about yourself, it never comes off the way you think it’s going to. It also is most certainly not a healthy or productive thing to do.

Maybe you’re trying to be ultra-modest or even put yourself down before someone else does. Either way, it’s not a great way of dealing with the frustration of where you may be at in your skills. In general, any time you put yourself down in front of other people, it makes them feel bad too. You may think that their silence is confirmation of the bad thing you said about yourself. That’s not necessarily true and in fact, you’ve probably just made the room super awkward in your attempt at modesty or whatever it was you were going for, so that’s why no one has said anything.

We often say things to ourselves we would never say to someone we care about. This is no exception when it comes to art and our abilities to create it. In case no one has ever said it out loud before, depending on the level you are trying to achieve with your art… it’s HARD. Just like anything else that requires time and practice. I would love to be better at sports but guess what, I don’t put in time or practice to be good at it so, I’m not going to complain about not being an athlete. Anything worth doing can often present a challenge in some way or another.
If you’re returning to art after a long hiatus or perhaps are just picking it up as a hobby, the first thing you need to do is give yourself a break! I feel like sometimes there is this false impression out there that creating art is supposed to be easy. I get it, I mean, there are artists out there who certainly make it look easy sometimes.  If I had a quarter for every time I heard someone at a wine and paint night complain that their work is horrible compared to some of the others there I could have made what the instructor made to teach the class.

Seriously. Stop being mean to yourself!

I would also argue, the point of events like a paint night is to go and have FUN. Art is FUN! Or at least it can be if you don’t make it into an unattainable competition to win some imaginary prize for awesomeness that literally no one else is even trying to compete with you on.

Relax, explore, make mistakes, learn, and most importantly – don’t sweat it if you’re not great at it. I promise you everyone has sucked at some point in their journey. I can also promise you that the rate at which you get better is different for everyone so don’t compare yourself to others if at all possible. I know it’s hard, I still do it too. Being completely honest sometimes these blog posts are just as much a reminder to me as they are meant to hopefully be an inspiration to others.

For real though, the thing that’s probably killing your progress the most is negative self-talk. It’s hard to move forward when the one person who is supposed to be your cheerleader no matter what isn’t doing their job. Just in case you thought I meant your mom, I didn’t,  I meant YOU. It’s not wrong to look for some validation in others as encouragement, but if they lack of it causes you to spiral into a wave of self-doubt and criticism that’s not good either. Just keep at it and do YOUR best. Take a class or find someone who can mentor you. PRACTICE, find patience, and most importantly and worth repeating…. stop being so hard on yourself.

Barb Sotiropoulos

Barb Sotiropoulos

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

2 Responses

  1. Perfect timing on the subject of self-doubt. I’m right there and just needed someone to be the voice of reason. Thank you for this article.

    1. Thanks for your comment Bryan, I’m glad you liked the article. We’ve all been there, and I’ve been noticing a lot comments in my social feed lately of artists feeling that way. Thought it was time for a pep talk! ☺️

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Hey, I'm Barb!

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

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