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Drawing and Painting


Feb 11, 2023

Frustration as an Artist, and what to do about it

I often get frustrated when I'm trying to get better at things, this is true with art as well. These are my thoughts on how I would have (and try to) tackle frustration as I'm building my art skills

Who's this for ? Anyone interested in drawing and painting, whether it be a hobby or a career.

I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to face creative blocks, technical challenges, or criticism of my work. It can be especially tough to deal with these challenges when we're working in a solitary field, without the support of a team or colleagues.

However, I've learned that there are ways to manage and overcome frustration as an artist. Here are some strategies that have helped me:

Taking a break

(Throws up in my mouth a little bit)...

That's the last thing anyone wants to hear when they're frustrated with something.

"Thanks for your insight Karen, I know I should take a break, go for a walk, get some fresh air and maybe do a fricken yoga class BUT THIS PAINTING ISN'T WORKING AND I DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT CENTERING MY CHI RIGHT NOW!!"

Although that's how I feel sometimes when things aren't working out how I want them to. In all honesty, a change of scenery or heck, even a good night's sleep can be really helpful to clear my head and come back to my work with fresh eyes.

You don't yell at a bud because it isn't a flower yet

Does anyone else love Seinfeld? I do.

And Jason Alexander (George Constanza) throws down these nuggets of wisdom in this video

  • 8:02

    "As you begin to find your way of working and you and you bump into something you go 'I can't make this work' gentle with yourself" "

  • 8:19

    “You don't yell at a bud because it isn't a flower yet it's gonna be a flower, but it opens when it's time for it to open. If you're working on something that is beyond your ability at the moment it doesn't mean it will be beyond your ability in a month but at the moment it's gonna frustrate the hell out of you”

It's easy to be hard on ourselves when we're feeling frustrated. Instead of beating myself up, I try to be kind to myself and recognize that frustration is a normal part of the creative process.

Finding inspiration

Actually open up those saved posts and images from Twitter & Instagram and spend some time studying them... you know you haven't looked at them in ages.

It's like a nice little dopamine hit of "Yeah! I'll learn a lot when I study this artist (saves post and never looks at it again)".

Often times looking at and getting inspired by the work of others can help me get 'un-stuck'

Embracing the struggle

Frustration can be a sign that I'm pushing myself and trying new things. I try to embrace the struggle and remember that it's through facing challenges that I grow and learn.

Being aware of the skill gap

This is a fantastic graph that shows why we may be what feels like 'constantly' getting frustrated ([the learning curve graph] I recommend saving this one when you next feel annoyed at how you're not improving as much as you want to.

Frustration is a natural part of the creative process. It's important to remember that we're all human and we all make mistakes. By using strategies like taking a break, practising self-compassion, seeking feedback, finding inspiration, and embracing the struggle, I've been able to effectively manage and overcome frustration and continue creating the art I love.

Work in progress past this point
Just a heads up, this is a living post/document, and past this point is a work in progress. There might be broken links, unfinished thoughts or things that just plain don't make any sense.

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