am i improving?

You’ve been slogging away everyday to your practice. You’ve been setting time aside from your day to put into your work. A few weeks go by and you don’t really notice any progress. Then a few months go by and you question if you’re even getting any better or the rate at which you are progressing is too slow.

Your goals and where you want to be with your skill level is like a carrot on a stick tied in front of you. It’s always moving and shifting away with you and you can never quite ‘reach’ it.  Be completely aware that wherever you are now in terms of your skill, you will not be completely satisfied with where you want to be. Every time you jump a hurdle or climb a mountain, you realize there’s more hurdles and mountains to overcome. It might seem a little discouraging but the sooner you can understand that, paradoxically, the less pain you’ll be in.


Acrylic speedpaint. Original by Ilya Repin

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try improving. It just means you should be okay with your current level and not compare yourself to your ideals; your future self and where you want to be.

This only creates unhappiness and frustration which create negative thought patterns which make every moment in making art as painful as possible. Which in turn creates procrastination and boredom. So let go of the idea that you’ll one day reach a ‘happy’ place where you’ll be completely content in making art. You can be in that happy place right now.

“But I’m not good enough right now, how can I be happy with how much I lack?”

If you are in this mindset now with your current skill level, you’ll always be in this mindset no matter how much you improve. You never stop learning, there’s always something or someone else you can learn from. So with that notion, you can never be in a place where you’ll be ‘content’ with your level.

“Am I improving? Why is it so slow?”

Progress in art is slow and requires discipline, but so is anything else that is worth learning. So learning to be happy and making most of where you are right now in terms of skill should be your main focus. You can do this by stop comparing yourself to your projected future self and others.

Actively and constantly relinquish your judgement of what you don’t know now, and focus on what you’re doing in that moment 100%

Even if its as simple as drawing a fingernail or eyelash, or mapping out a shadow. Put as much love and presence into whatever you’re doing in that moment.  Whenever you can hear your mind start comparing, pause for a moment and refuse to entertain that thought, then continue your focus on your work.

Click here for part 2

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