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Giving Up?

Do you ever get so frustrated with your art that you just want to throw in the towel? Bin it? Give up?

I’m currently teaching in several places (Let’s Face It & Love Art Happy Life) and apart from the wonderful work that is being posted, people also sometimes express their frustration. Their annoyance at not getting it right or not drawing what they see in their mind’s eye. I read about people throwing their art in the bin or ripping it up.

My heart feels heavy when I see people being so hard on themselves!

I really understand that feeling, that annoyance and disgust at what was supporsed to be wonderful, but ended up severely lacking. I’ve never binned my art, but in a way I binned my creativity for years: by simply not creating for fear of creating something disappointing (again).

For me I want art to be something joyful, even if I recognise that it is sometimes a struggle (believe me, I struggle). Getting the balance right is actually a really big part of my wish for self-care and self-respect. Shooting yourself down actually adds another layer of suffering on top of the already existing disappointment of not liking something or something not working out right.

I feel so sad thinking about the fact that so many of you experience this, I want to share my tips for allowing art to be a more joyful experience.

1. Struggle. First of all, let’s just sit with the fact that we sometimes struggle. Life can be a struggle, art can be a struggle. And that is OK. Struggle is not something to be avoided at all cost or a marker of not doing it right. It just happens. Sometimes we struggle with something physical (e.g. art techniques) or emotional (e.g. confidence). If we interact with the struggle and face it it can help us actually get further on our journey. It helps us grow.

2. Letting Go Of The Outcome. I know I harp on a lot about letting go of the outcome *grins* but it’s just so relevant! The art you create simply is. It is not good, it is not bad, it just is. WHY do we want to throw it in the bin, or annihilate ourselves or rip it up? It’s about attaching an importance to it being something ELSE. As long as we’re focussed on wanting it to be anything other than what it is, we’re creating disappointment and suffering for ourselves.

3. Noticing. Being able to think critically and assess our work is a strength and can help us improve, but there is a difference between observing and criticising/annihilation. When you notice instead of judge, you’re simply observing what is. You can then absorb that knowledge in a positive way, rather than a judgy feel-bad-about-yourself-way. It’s the difference between “The eyes are all wrong! It’s ruined!” and noticing “The left eye is smaller than the right eye. I don’t enjoy the look that creates, next time I will try to pay more attention to getting the eyes the same size”.

4. Be Where You Are At. It’s so tough in this online world not to compare ourselves. I don’t know about you but my Facebook feed is filled with wonderful art from amazing artists all over the world. Everyone is doing their own thing and everyone is on their own path. Consuming dozens or hundreds of pictures of what other people are doing can really affect my confidence about what I am doing myself. I start comparing myself and wishing my art was ‘a little more like this’ or ‘a little less like that’. When I compare myself to others I’m treating myself so unfairly, because really I can’t compare myself to anyone other than myself! I’m Iris, I’ve been painting on and off since 2008 and consistently since 2013. I paint a few times a week. I tend to choose expression and play over technical skill and practice. I’ve not been to art school. I’ve followed some online classes. I love trying different materials. Etc etc etc (everyone has their own unique story). The art I’m making is a beautiful reflection of who I am at this point in time, and I am exactly where I need to be.

Say it with me now:

The art I’m making is a beautiful reflection of who I am at this point in time, and I am exactly where I need to be

I really hope that the above will give you some of the tools that have helped me get out of the critical judging way of approaching art and into a more accepting and joyful way of doing art.

If you have any tips I’d love to hear them, please leave a comment below!

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6 thoughts on “Giving Up?”

  1. Iris, thank you. I feel like you wrote this to me as if you crawled around inside my brain and hart.

    I had a hard week art wise. My confidence has taken a big hit and often my brain wonders why we are pushing forward instead of hiding under the blankets in an artless cave.

    Each bit of art that I bring forth is a struggle. I’m told I’m a natural but honestly, I’m not. I’m a struggler and a fighter. I’m told I’m too harsh on myself, but I’m not, I’m analysing what I don’t like and seeking ways to fix it, to grow and be better.

    I’ve accepted that for me, art will be a struggle and I’m okay with it because when I do finally create something it’s truly been born of me.

    In my seeking to grow and be better, I often forget that it’s okay to be right where I am at. I’m new to art, and my emotions range from awe and gladness that I’m making things to frustration and disappointment that I am not where you lot are at. But then, I remind myself that those who are before me have been right where I am and have earned their places farther down the journey than I.

    I am not a quick learner and what comes easily to others is often a fight for me. I’m learning that I need to be okay with that.

    Thank you so much for this post. It’s much needed.

    • Thank you sooo much for sharing so honestly about your process Christy! I absolutely ADORE your art and I’m in awe of your technical skill and already very apparent personal style. It’s so surprising to read that you struggle, but also really valuable to know because it just goes to show that what we see from the outside is never the whole picture. I really hope you can find more emotional peace with the work you are doing in the moment. Please keep going, the world needs your beautiful art and artistic voice!

  2. Thank you so much for your eloquently stated views on
    positive thinking. It really does help to be reminded of
    this. We would never criticize someone else the way we
    sometimes criticize ourselves. Thanks for reminding us
    to be more analytical and less emotional about our
    shortcomings. Hugs

    • Yes that’s so true, we are often much harder on ourselves. It can definitely help to try and talk to ourselves as one of our best friends who we just want to pile love and acceptance onto!

  3. You are very sweet and caring Iris. I am so thankful to have found you on my beginners journey. Thank you. It is hard not to compare when there are so many images on a feed. I will take these points as encouragement as I try to obtain the tools to create, and try not to be so attached to an attempt on paper as anything more than an attempt on paper LOL. Here’s to making it more fun, accepting, and free!

  4. Dear Iris, your post is so thoughtful and caring! Thank you for that and for the great tips, they are really helpful! I have written to you in past posts about my struggles with art as a new artist and about the ‘fear’ of the outcome. There were several times that I felt so frustrated that I couldn’t get myself on my craft table to create something, there were even two or three times that I thought I should totally give up. But after reading posts like this one (and many previous of yours!) I’ve realised that other people struggle with art too, even people that are known artists. I’ve also realised that I was too hard with myself comparing my art with the creations of artists that make art for years! Both these realisations helped me a lot to loosen up and ‘see’ art making from an other perspective. I’ve also realised that when I heavily struggle in other parts of my life I also can’t create art that I like, and trying to do so just get things worse so I don’t push myself into that. Finally, after loosening up with myself and as months went by, I’ve started noticing good things in my art makings and I’ve also noticed my progress. All these helped me a lot so now I accept my art as is, and even if I make something that I don’t really like I tell to myself that it is ok, I throw it away or cover it up and start something new whenever I feel like doing so, no pressure is needed! Just be good to yourself, don’t give up easily and everything is going to be ok! I hope that my experiences will help other new artists too. I will definitely repeat your mojo, I love it! Thank you!

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