Art frustration is very common, especially as a beginner artist! As you improve, you also learn how to deal with this frustration. I remember it being something very hard to deal with, but I also realized that I was not alone. With time and practice, I learned to deal with it better.
So how can you deal with artistic frustration? Most of the times it comes down with taking a break. Either just stop drawing for some time and instead watch and do things that inspire you. Or do simple drawing exercises and sketch things that you like and make you happy!
Of course, this sounds easier than it is. It is very easy to focus on the things that are going wrong. So let’s talk more about these frustrations, why they happen and how to overcome it!
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Why Do We Get Artistic Frustration?
Creating something is an emotional experience. Drawing is a way of self-expression. Even if you’re just drawing fanart of something you love, or learning a new subject, you’re always using your own language.
We’re always putting something of ourselves in our own art. Even if we don’t notice it! It’s only natural that we feel frustrated when, even if inspiration hits, our hands and tools seem to not want to cooperate with us.
We’re always putting something of ourselves in our own art.
It happens! Sometimes, our mind just isn’t completely into it. Other times, our perception of what is good art and what we imagine in our heads isn’t something we’re able to do yet. We need more practice.
I used to feel frustrated and angry that my art wouldn’t represent exactly what I imagined in my mind. How could it not? I had the image so perfect in my mind, it must be easy to draw it!
That’s when our perception reached a new level. A level that our own ability hasn’t reached to yet. Today I still have these slumps. Before I knew about this, I would get angry and give up on art for months if needed!
The thing is, our perception progresses and improves faster than our drawing ability.
Now, I can very much feel and see when my perception of art is different.
I feel it in my lines when I suddenly look at them and don’t like them anymore. When this happens, I know not to get frustrated. I know it will pass and that probably next week I’ll notice that my lines and drawings changed and will be better!
Other people won’t probably even notice these changes, but I will. So this is mostly why artists end up feeling frustrated about their art. This feeling of not being good enough, because our perception of what we see is better than what we can do.
This is why we end up looking up other artists art and compare it to ours! Again, it is fairly normal for it to happen, but we can’t let it get to us.
We need to realize when we hit a slump, acknowledge it and do what we can for it to go away and so that we can continue our artistic journey in peace!
Of course, every person is different and has different ways to deal with this kind of frustrations, but I’ll go through some tips and tricks to help you!
Frustrated Artist Syndrome – The Tortured Artist
There’s this myth that to make good art you have to suffer. Now let me get this straight: this is a big lie! We learn about artists from other times or even from our own times, not only painters but musicians as well.
And one of the main reasons they’re famous is because they suffered. Supposedly, their creations were good because of their own pains. As I said, we express ourselves through art and surely, art can help us at least talk about our problems.
One can evoke their sadness or any kind of feeling in their work. But as a way of release! If it does help you communicate how you feel and it makes you feel better than it’s perfectly fine!
But always remember that your art and its worth do not translate through burnout, sadness, loneliness, etc. If someone tries to convince you of this, walk in the opposite direction!
Let’s try something here. One day, you’re just not feeling yourself, you feel sad and hopeless, but you try to still draw something. Now, the day after you’re actually pretty happy and feeling good about yourself. So you draw something as well.
Now put these two drawings side by side. Which one do you prefer? Which drawing brings you joy. I’m pretty sure that the one you drew on a happy day looks much better than the one that you drew on a bad day.
Suffering doesn’t make art. It’s actually the opposite.
Draw what makes you happy and don’t force it. We create things that make us feel good, but inside and outside. We also often create things, to make others feel good. So it’s only natural that these things will translate better if you’re happy while doing them.
Figure out your own pace
Thankfully, nowadays artists are starting to be more open about burnout and other mental diseases. It’s important to know when to rest or even take a break.
So, as always, if you’re not feeling good about yourself and your art, talk to someone, it might help! Take a break from the kind of work you’re doing or just take things slower. Maybe you won’t be as productive as you’re used to, but even performing the smallest tasks are already enough!
Forcing ourselves to work on something we’re tired of, both physical or mentally is not good. It makes us sick, literally!
Lots of artists suffer from burnout because sooner or later they’ll have a project to work on and they have to put so many hours to meet their deadlines. In the end, they feel too tired, sometimes even lose their passion for that kind of work!
Of course, big companies and just the work structure from today feeds this burnout culture. But it’s also up to us and our communities to fight it. To understand that we’re not machines and need rest. This is not an easy fight, but we’re starting to get there.
So remember, even if you’re just starting to learn how to draw, don’t dive in with this mentality. Rest is needed. We don’t need to work all the time. Some people can work more and harder than others. That’s just how it is. Figure out your own pace and work with it!
We all walk the same road, just at different paces!
Take Breaks Often
As I said, every person has different ways to deal with their artistic frustrations, but it’s always important to know when to take a break.
If your drawing isn’t going as you want, but you keep on trying, getting the same results over and over, then chances are you need a break. It is of no use to continue and feed your frustration.
Stop, even if it’s just for half an hour. It is always important to take a break when drawing. Our muscles start getting tense if you draw for too long. So it’s good to take breaks not only to clean your mind for a bit but for your physical health as well.
Go for a walk, have a snack and some water. Take the time to stretch your arms and legs. It gets tiring to sit for too long. Sometimes that’s all we need!
When you get back to drawing, you’ll see your body and mind feels refreshed. Chances are this time, whatever you were working on is going to work out better!
Let your mind stop for a bit. Sometimes the problem is not on our hands and drawing ability but in our mind. Things aren’t going as we wanted and our mind focuses on that.
If needed, restart your work! I find that sometimes if what I’m doing isn’t working at all, then I need to take a bit of a break and start anew. I’ve been looking for the same lines and shapes for too long and can no longer understand what’s wrong or right in it.
Sometimes the problem is not on our hands and drawing ability but in our mind.
Pick a new piece of paper or open a new blank canvas on your computer. You’ll see that restarting a drawing can help! Most of the times, the process will then be much faster and better looking, mostly because you already drew it before.
But this times, it goes better, because you’ve practiced it. Deep down we already know how to do it, we were just too focused on the mistakes!
Your Art Is NOT Equal To Your Worth
Remember that you are not what you’re drawing. It doesn’t represent your maximum skill level or how far you can go. Some days will be good, some days will not. That’s just how it is. This goes with everything in life, not just drawing.
I know it’s easy to fall into that hole. That our art isn’t good enough. That we’re not good enough, so it’s not worth it. It is! It always is.
Remember that the drawing you did today is not the last one. Even if your drawings don’t go as you wish, you don’t need to show them to anyone! You can even throw them in the garbage if you feel it helps!
When I felt really, really frustrated, the kind of day where I really feel that my art isn’t good. That I’ve been just fooling myself, I’d rage. I’m not even joking, I would suddenly just scribble on top of the drawings. To a point where the pages would rip!
Now, I gotta say, this wouldn’t help me. At all. I’d still feel frustrated. Actually, after the rage, I’d feel bad for acting that way. So I’d be in a loop of rage and sadness.
How did I overcome this? Simple.
I don’t feel good about what I’m doing today? Well, then fine, let’s stop for the day. Let’s focus on something else and tomorrow things might be different.
The days where my brain really isn’t there at all, I’d focus on things that I know relax me. For example, cleaning is something it helps. I know it seems odd, but it’s the kind of thing I do when I’m not entirely myself. At the end of the day, I’m probably tired, but I also feel better.
Other times, I’d just focus on sketching and doing simple exercises. I’m not looking for a perfect, finished drawing today, just some fun.
You have to remember that even if you already have years and years of practice, you’re always learning and perfecting your art. So one bad day won’t undermine all the good days you had! Just keep going and have confidence in yourself!
It Takes Time To Perfect Any Craft
When learning something new, it always takes a lot of time to get better. You won’t become better from one day to another, and you have to accept that!
Even if you spend countless hours in one day glued to your art trying to improve, it will still take time and you might even burn out! So it’s always better to take breaks and take your time as we’ve talked about before.
It is important to practice, but it’s also important to rest. We learn not only by a drawing but by also observing. Think about that when watching a movie or even reading a book. I often see myself analyzing how certain shots were made or why.
Noticing the outfits used in a movie, the make-up, and the whole environment. I later even see myself adding those things I noticed and learn to my artwork. Watch and do things that you like. Sometimes even those you don’t like! This can also be important.
Even when it’s something I know I won’t like, I sometimes try to watch it. Just to be sure what it is about it that I don’t like. This can also help my style. We learn with everything around us. It inspires us.
Even if you spend countless hours in one day glued to your art trying to improve, it will still take time and you might even burn out!
So it’s not only important to practice but also see other works and learn with them. Take the time for both! It’s important to find things that inspire us and help us improve our art and style!
For example, for me, it’s mostly games, series, and animated movies or series. I really like dark fantasy, for example, so it’s only natural that it sometimes shows on my artwork!
These inspirations don’t need to be clear on your work, but you’ll certainly know what inspired you to choose this or that theme, that color scheme or how you drew your lines.
Just take your time to learn, find inspiration and improve with time. It’s normal for it to change all the time, especially at the beginning, but with every practice, style, and exercise, you’re learning and improving!
How do artists spark creativity? In many ways. This is something that can be different for everyone. Personally, I feel that watching and seeing things that I like and make me happy, spark my creativity. Sometimes it can be a book that I’m reading, others a game. Sometimes I need to go out and visit a museum to spark my creativity. Surround yourself with art!
How can I feel better about my art? Don’t compare yourself to other artists, instead focus on progressing your own art style and check your past art. Somedays we might feel like our art isn’t good, but it’s all a matter of looking at art that is months old and see how much we improved. And of course, don’t force it. If it’s not going well today, tomorrow is a new day!
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Patricia Caldeira is the main writer here at Don Corgi. She's an art teacher with over 20.000 happy students across many platforms and courses!
Enjoy your stay and as always:
Keep on drawing!