What to do when you feel like you're not improving

Jun 13, 2022
Drawing improvement

Whenever you feel like you're not improving… look back at your older drawings!

By looking back you can see where you started and how far you’ve come.

Even if you’re not where you want to be yet, look at the progress you’ve made because from now on it will only get better…

Take a look at the two drawings. On the left, is a portrait I drew in 2002. At the time, that was the best I could do. On the right, is a portrait I drew in 2020. 

I have to say that it didn’t take me that long to practice and improve myself. I only picked up drawing again in 2014, after not having touched as much as a pencil for more than 10 years. 

When I look back at my drawing in 2002 I remember that I didn’t know anything about all the different art materials, how to blend or about values. 

After drawing the sketch, I tried to blend the graphite using my fingers and that was it.

I didn’t add any darker values to create contrast and I didn’t finish the hair because I didn’t know how. That’s not because I couldn’t, but because I just didn’t learn how to yet. I didn’t take the time to read or watch videos on how to layer or blend and I had never heard about values. 

When I became motivated again in 2014 I started researching and learning everything I could and started to put it into practice. Getting to where I am now took a lot of practice as well as trial and error. This time around I had the knowledge, knew which materials to use and how to make my drawing look realistic.

After reading a book by Andrew Loomis (Drawing the head and hands), I’ll always remember his quote: ‘First comes knowledge and then comes practice’. 

If you have the knowledge, you’re already halfway there. The rest comes with practice. 

That’s why I often say it’s important to understand what you’re drawing if you want to draw something successfully. 

When I decided I wanted to get better at drawing and started practicing I could have given up after a while just because other people were better. But drawing was something that I really liked and enjoyed.

 

Developing as an artist can feel like going 2 steps forward and 1 step back. You’ve improved a lot and you think you have it all figured out but then you get to the next level where things become challenging and it feels like you’ve taken a step backward again. 

When this happens you might get frustrated because you’ve come this far and think “shouldn’t things be getting easier???”.

This journey is about taking baby steps as we run into different challenges along the way.

If you start to find things are becoming challenging again, try to think about why this is happening…

It’s because you’ve made a lot of progress, you’re observing and seeing more and you expect more from yourself.

Whenever you feel discouraged, it’s important to look back regularly at your older drawings and see your progress. You're not going to see a big difference if you look back only a month, look back further.

Skills don't always progress in a linear way, you’ll see there are ups and downs. 

Whenever you come up against a challenge, think about it this way: ‘I’m finding this difficult because I’m at a whole new level and discovering new things’. 

Be proud of yourself for coming this far. Be proud of yourself that you kept showing up even though you might have felt frustration and discouragement at times, but you pushed through and kept on practicing.

By showing up and practicing you will continue to grow as an artist!


If you are just starting out, try not to compare your journey to others who have been practicing for years. If your goal is to draw well, it will take time, practice, patience, failure and experimentation just like with any other skill. 

If you keep going, you’ll eventually get somewhere near to where you want to be. 

If you give up, then you’ll never know.

Long story short, if you have a goal, and you enjoy what you’re doing, then go for it!

 

Whether you’re just starting for the first time or you want to get back into drawing after 10 years, it’s never too late to start. Give in to your passion and get started on your own artistic journey now.

Join me and other members that are working towards their goals step by step and are becoming the artists they want to be. Read more about the Artistic Journey membership here.

Hope to see you there!

Emmy

 

 

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