failure is a compass

We often shy away from art due to fear of failure. It’s painful and causes procrastination and anxiety, so we could see it as being a negative thing. But I can tell you now that you can use that fear as a huge positive, a guide to show you your weaknesses in art and areas that need improving. 

I would only focus on things I was good at; things I knew I could do well. So I’d be living in my comfort zone, with my progress stalling and a promise to myself that I’d ‘do that painful thing tomorrow‘. That I’d do it when I felt ‘just right’, when the voice in my head wasn’t so loud and judgmental. Sound familiar?

How does procrastination feel inside your body; is it a lump in your throat or an ache in your chest? Don’t try to change those feelings, anxiety or negative emotions, just try being a partial observer to those emotions.
 The purpose is to be more aware of those emotions. The more awareness you have, the less you’ll be controlled and paralyzed by those emotions. That emotion is trying to tell you something if you listen hard enough, pointing you in the direction you need to go. If drawing hands makes you nervous, then you need to be drawing hands.
Work against that resistance, not away from it.

What’s something you’ve been putting off? Is it doing a self portrait? Learning colour theory? Painting? Selling your art?

Now if you’re a beginner or lack experience in a certain field, don’t jump into the deep end and set yourself up for frustration. You want to stretch your comfort zone slowly, over time.
 If you’re learning about the element of value, the light and dark of tones — mono chromatically , you wouldn’t dive straight into complex colour theory and lots of colour in a subject, or to understand colour theory well.

chair

Acrylic study

Whatever you’re practicing can be broken down to its simpler elements.

If you want to understand colour theory or have a hard time with it, scale it back to monochromatic values. Do more studies in monochrome, and learn all you can about values in one colour.
 If you’re unable to do draw portraits from life well, then you should be doing still lifes. If you struggle with still lifes, then draw 1 object a time.  Just as a musician would master a difficult passage, by slowing down the tempo and focusing on it.

If what you’re doing is too easy, then you’ll just get bored. As much as it is as about scaling back the activity in where it isn’t pushing you too hard beyond your capabilities, but also about challenging you enough so you can enjoy the exercise. In that zone, you’ll find you’ll be able to practice better and stay focused on what you’re doing.

If you want to learn a certain subject in art, whether it be lines, values, composition, etc there is plenty of information out there that covers it. In fact, there is an over-saturation of information out there, books and workshops on how to draw, paint and everything in between, but not enough on how to learn to make art. As overwhelming as it is, you just have to start anyway.

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