I always say you have to focus on the process, not the results. And it’s true. I stand by it. But I understand it’s easier said than done. Especially if you feel you’re not improving. You keep trying, but at the end of the day what you see is nothing you feel proud of. If frustration creeps in, it may lead to stagnation, and even quitting altogether. And that’s not good. You need art in your life.
What happens often is that your “critic’s” eye is move developed and advanced than your artistic one. Meaning, you can see that something is not what it should be, or what you intended, but you don’t know exactly what it is, therefore how to make it right.
First of all: don’t worry. It’s an uncomfortable part of growing as an artist, and something that you have to learn how to deal with, because it’ll happen most of your artistic life. Most artists agree in that you never stop learning (I think this is great!) and there will always be something you need to improve on. With time, you’ll feel less uncomfortable with this notion and take it as something natural. But if you’re relatively new to art or if you do it as a hobby, maybe taking long periods off, you may feel you never get good results.
Here are some ideas of what you can do if you’re constantly feeling frustrated with the results you’re getting when you finish a piece.
Find something you do like
The first thing I recommend is finding something that you think you did successfully. It can be anything. A color. It can be small, like a particular stroke. It doesn’t need to be the whole piece, just one thing you like. This will help you make amends with it, while taking note and remembering that you are capable of doing something good. You can add this one thing to your arsenal and use it a as recourse in future pieces.
Find the main thing you don’t like
You may not like more than one thing about this piece, but what ruined it for you? Take note and write it down, then save it along with the piece, be it traditional or digital, so they’re together. Do this with your past 10 pieces, or the number you made in your last art-making period. Then, see if there are similarities or coincidences. If there are, that’s where your next improving effort should be focused on.
Make a new piece
Using mostly that one thing you liked in your pieces, repeating it, or combining different things you liked in the pieces you reviewed. This will reinforce your self-worth as an artist while settling all those successful things in your mind, so you will use them often in future pieces.
Make practice pieces
Focusing on improving that main thing you found you had problems with in your reviewed pieces. It would be good if you watched some video tutorials about that beforehand, so you can apply what you learned or any tips you got from those.
This process doesn’t need to be serious or boring. Take it as a game, like a detective. Try to shift your focus out of what you are doing wrong and analyze things from a distance, as if they are made by someone you don’t know.
I hope some if these tips help you. And remember: you are not the results. Enjoy the process!
Barbara Din is a visual artist, graphic designer, painter, interior designer, crafter, musician and writer living in Argentina.