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5 Reasons You’re Not Allowed to Say You Suck at Art Anymore

Let’s face it, in a world full of trolls, snobs, and self-proclaimed “art critics.” there’s a pretty good chance no one is meaner to your art then… well… you. You should stop that! You art has never done anything to you, why are you so mean to it?

I was inspired to write this list because I used to have this annoying habit of showing a piece of my art to my Dad, he would say it’s good, then I would say “It’s not my best” or “I’m not super proud of it” to which he would say, “It’s better than what I can do.” I’ve made it a point to stop doing that, because I too would hate it when artists better than me would say they weren’t proud of a piece of artwork they made (yet they still post it on social media) and I too would sit there thinking, “Pfft. It’s better than what I can do.”

I don’t want anybody, even people who’s art I personally don’t like, to say their art sucks. I want to live in a world where people can recognize their talent, appreciate the fact that they’re not as good as they want to be, but will get there someday. I want artists to be more supportive- especially of themselves.

Before you look at your newest painting, drawing, sculpture, photograph, or anything you made recently, and say “it sucks,” please consider these 5 reasons why you shouldn’t say it.

1. You’re still a better artist than SOMEBODY.

Think about how insecure you are about your art- now imagine meeting the artist you admire most- living or dead- and hearing them say that about their own art. You might feel relieved that even the artist who inspired you the most is critical of their own art- but the thing is, they’re wrong. You know it in your hear they’re wrong. If their art really did suck, you wouldn’t have been inspired to create art because of them.

That’s how many people think about you when you say your art sucks.

Now, you are a better artist than somebody. Hopefully the most important “somebody” was you yesterday- a month ago- a year ago. The point is, your art can’t suck because, as long as you’re still learning, the art you’re making now is the best art you’ve ever made! Most importantly, it’s not the best art you’re going make- that’s still yet to come.

I don’t know about you, but I’m very excited about that fact.

2. You might just be fishing for compliments.

I know. For a fact. That I’ve been guilty of doing this. Even though I might not have been as proud of a drawing I made, but there was a good chance I was showing that drawing to someone who was not an artist- or at least not as good of an artist as me.

I would then say, “Oh it’s not my best” or whatever, and immediately expect-even on a subconscious level, that they would give me reassuring compliments and help inflate my ego.

The point is, you might need to consider if deep down, you don’t honestly think your art is that bad- you’re just trying to get compliments- and if you are- you shouldn’t probably stop. It’s manipulative and not very nice.

3. Why Does “Your Art Suck?” Because You’re Still Learning!

I think too many young artists get this idea in their head that they become an art student, then are a professional artist and can be the best they can be. The truth is, great artists never stop learning.

If you’re not proud of the artwork you made, this is a really good opportunity to learn why you’re not proud of it- to get a really good look at it and figure out what you need to do better, then learn. Is it a color theory issue? Is it a proportions issue? This where you should stop criticizing yourself, but instead, critique yourself.

Now, this doesn’t mean you suck. Be honest, yes, learn, yes, do better next time, yes, but be kind to yourself. There will be times in your life where the only place you can get encouragement is yourself (in which case, I’d advise you to move because it sounds like you’re surrounded by toxic people).

4. The More You Say It, The More You Believe It.

Imagine you’re looking for a new couch, you’re asking the salesman questions about it, and he says, “Yeah, it’s a good couch, but it’ll only last you three years, the upholstery is noisy when you sit on it, and gosh, you know? The color’s not the best, it’s a dirty color.” Would you want to buy that couch? Also, why is this salesman still even working here?

If you want to make art more than just your hobby, you’re going to need to learn a little about marketing your artwork too. The more in the habit you are saying “Your art sucks,” the more you’ll believe it, and the less attractive you’ll be to buyers. When I worked retail, and told customers about a product I bought myself and loved- I would get excited about it and can’t stop talking to customers about it. Every item like I’ve sold customers sold every. Damn. Time.

If you’re in the habit of being overly critical about you art- and especially when you’re talking about it out loud to others, you will believe your art sucks. This will make you more frustrated with your art and, in extension, yourself.

Art is more than just any old product- it’s a creation of your very being. It’s a part of you- instead of not being content with it- especially the way it looks now- you should be proud of it, excited about it, it’s a part of your story and you should tell it to others loudly and happily.

5. Finally, art is about as objective as they come. There is art out there that sucks- but not yours.

See this painting? This is a detail photo of Jackson Pollock’s “Number 8.”

You know what else? It sucks! There was no visible effort put into this painting, the guy literally just poured acrylic paint onto a canvas every which way with no apparent rhyme or reason!

And people have gotten horribly angry at me for stating these opinions. Turns out there are a lot of people who admire Pollock and his work, and get very touchy when people say it looks like- well- nothing but a bunch of splattered paint.

If you think your art sucks, there’s a good chance it doesn’t. Everybody out there has a different viewpoint on what makes good and bad art. There are people who might look at your art and think it’s bad, and there are probably a lot more people who look at your art and think you’re a considerable person of talent. You should be in the latter category.

Art is so objective, why shouldn’t you like your own art? Or at least be excited about the potential masterpieces that will come out of your future years of practice?

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Fear of Success

So, we all know about the fear of failure. I feel like too many of us are too afraid to put the work in to whatever our dream is- not because we’re lazy, exactly, well, maybe that’s part of it, but there’s this crippling fear of failure, rejection, essentially that you won’t succeed in whatever you’re doing. I can’t tell you how many Calls for Artists I didn’t participate in because I thought, “Oh, they won’t accept me anyway.”

But what about the opposite?

The fear of success?

What about the fear of achieving your goal only to find that you can’t handle it?

Personally, I’ve had a couple of instances where my art was accepted for exhibition, but I didn’t tell anybody about it. I’m not even sure why. I just didn’t.

There are so many easy things I feel like I could do with this website to better present my artwork: clean it up, have a separate section where I show art I’ve sold/exhibited/gave as gifts, but I’m afraid of doing that too.

I think whenever you’re trying to start something new, learn a new skill, improve a skill or whatever, it’s just as important to consider why you don’t want to succeed instead of why you don’t want to fail.

When I was trying to improve my attention to detail for work, I found that I had this very subtle feeling of resistance. There was a part of me that didn’t want to improve. So, I more or less had a conservation with that part of my brain, it was like splitting myself in two people: The rational me, and the “inner child” me that didn’t like change or anything that would equate to growing up. So, I wrote a list of ten reasons I didn’t want to improve, then ten rebuttal answers. That made the process so much easier. I don’t know how much this exactly improved my attention to detail, but after that, I didn’t feel any resistance.

Yesterday evening, I found a new trick that would get more Instagram followers- which is essentially following more people who follow the pages you like. I added on to this strategy by liking five art pieces of other peoples’ stuff and commenting on at least one thing. I didn’t know how big of an impact that would make- just thought I’d try it out. I woke up this morning to find I had 15 new followers overnight- that’s about how many I get per week. I know 15 isn’t a big number, but it is compared to my usual weekly followers.

In that moment, I felt like a dog who was chasing a car then finally caught it.

I’ve thought about my art journey over the past year, and I’ve been told my whole life that being an artist, that it’s a hyper competitive field and that it would never go anywhere without a backup career- I don’t remember who in my life said that, but that’s what I believed. This past year though, I found that the opposite is true. The more I put myself out there, the more shows I sign up for, the more active I am on Instagram I get more and more successful- even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

I now have 200 followers on Instagram, I’ve been exhibited in four shows, and I’ve even sold artwork.

I’ve been trying to build my following to help my art business for a while, but this huge jump is making that “what if I succeed and can’t handle it” anxiety set in.

  1. What if I get a lot of followers who want to buy my artwork, see that there’s practically nothing in my Etsy shop, then leave?
  2. What if I get more requests for commissions than I can handle?
  3. What if the quality of my artwork falters due to increase in demand?
  4. I love art so much, what if doing this as a regular job causes burnout and I end up hating it?
  5. What if I’m successful for a while, but then suddenly stop?
  6. What if my tendency to work on something at full blast, then my tendency for complacency and burnout sets in that ruins everything I’ve worked so hard for?
  7. What if this causes me to only paint one specific thing? What if this prevents me from experimenting, or improving since people will want to buy only one type of art from me?

Well. As of now, I can only think of 7. Time for the rebuttal!

  1. Getting a lot of followers going to your Etsy shop will probably encourage you to post more listings and be more active on Etsy. Once you make a couple of a sales, that will build momentum to keep going.
  2. That’s silly. You can have a limited number of commissions. You also probably won’t get “more commissions than you can handle” for a long time.
  3. That’s a real possibility, another real possibility is the quality of your art will increase since you will have no choice but to keep working on art, practicing, and getting better.
  4. Again, another likely possibility. The reality is though that most people don’t like their jobs they didn’t go to school for or get passionate about. At least this would be a job that you know has a lot of meaning.
  5. Like you suddenly stop making money? Or your following stagnates? As long as you keep doing what you’re doing, that won’t happen.
  6. Yes, you have done that in the past: work on something at full blast, freak out, then burn everything, but you have been doing that less and less once you decided you were going to keep doing what you love instead of what’s “popular” and especially since you started competing with the person you were yesterday, AND especially since you adopted the “long game” philosophy where sometimes you’re ahead, and sometimes you’re behind.
  7. That would suck. But it would be very much like how your life is right now. You’re working a 9-5 job doing something that you didn’t go to school for, and you’re spending your mornings and free time building your art business and your following. If art did become your 9-5 job, then the time you would have spent trying to make that dream happen would instead be experimenting and working on other art.

Sometimes, we just need to treat ourselves as someone we’re caring for. We need to realize that the people most responsible for holding us back is ourselves- we then need to listen to ourselves: honestly listen to our fears, then in kind, give ourselves a little bit of encouragement and reassurance that no matter what, everything will be fine.

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The Notre Dame Fire: Trying to Keep a Stoic Perspective

Hey all.

I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to post about the Notre Dame fire. I didn’t think I had anything of value to add, and I’m personally disgusted by people who want to turn catastrophic events into ways to essentially boost their own internet careers, but after mulling it over and following my rule to stay away from social media for at least 24 hours when a catastrophe, I learned a couple of things I think are worth sharing.

The general consensus is that the fire is not caused by arson, that it was an accident. Newsweek reported last month that churches all over France have been vandalized, so naturally, there are quite a few articles saying that we can’t just rule out arson for Notre Dame as well.

For now, I’m willing to believe it was just an accident, if new evidence comes up later that this was an attack, then of course I’ll believe that- but either way, it doesn’t really matter how it happened and spinning conspiracy theories won’t solve anything.

The Notre Dame Fire

I Wanted it to be Someone’s Fault

When I first heard of the fire, I was shocked, sad, and angry. The craziest thing was that I wanted the fire to have been caused by someone- that way it felt like there was someone I could direct all this anger at- especially if they meant to do it maliciously- I just wanted someone to blame.

Before you start calling me a psychopath, think about this for a second. How many times in the past couple of years did something bad happen and you wanted the person to be caught- and receive a just- or even more than just punishment? Most people seem to have that mindset in some form or another- from the death threats that went to the kid who accidentally started all those forest fires in Northern Oregon to Kathy Griffin calling for the names of the Covington Catholic kids a few months back- and the hundreds of people who responded in kind.

I’m not excusing this behavior, in fact I think it’s abhorrent how riled up people can get and target individual people making themselves more malicious and psychotic than the accused themselves.

It just scared me knowing how much in that moment- if that horrible tragedy happened- it better damn well have been caused by someone.

For this reason, I’m relieved that it’s just an accident- the last thing we need is to become animals and start descending on someone- and also frustratingly watching people try to defend their actions if they happened to belong to an ideology they agree with- causing even more division and chaos.

Despair… or Acceptance?

So, after that whirlwind of rage- other interesting thoughts occured.

Some background: I’ve always been a very emotional person, which attracted me to the philosophy of Stoicism- especially Marcus Aurelius, and I’m currently working an office job that causes a lot of anxiety for me- to alleviate this, I started keeping a daily journal where I write about my feelings, then I take a segment from Marcus Auerelius’ Meditations, analyze it, and write about how it pertains to my life.

So, after I had my initial shock and allowed my brain to go to that dark place, I realized: “There’s nothing I can do about it. Notre Dame is all the way across the world. I have to focus on what I’m doing right now, which is working and being the best office worker I can be.” Normally I have to work really hard to calm myself down, but these thoughts just surfaced without much effort- so I think the journal is helping.

Heck, when my husband and I pulled into the driveway at home after work, he looked at me and said, “I’m sorry dear.” He said it with the same sympathy you would give someone who’s family member was dying or in intensive care and you’re not sure if they’ll ever be the same again.

I thought right then and there that would be the point where I lost it- where I would start crying. I felt tears coming up, but instead all I said was, “There’s nothing we can do about it now. Let’s go inside and make dinner.”

Again, I did bury or bottle my feelings deep down, I just thought about what I can do at the present moment and what I can’t. The stuff I can’t do would not be fixed by getting upset or emotional.

The Positives

So, this tragedy happened. Getting angry or sad won’t make it un-happen. So what are some positive things?

  1. I believe it brought more attention to the other church vandalizations, it might actually wake people up and realize, “Oh crap! Our history and culture is being destroyed right under our noses!” I’m optimistic that people will care more about that now that we practically felt like we lost Notre Dame. I personally felt like I didn’t know the extent of it until the fire happened. It sucks that it took a major fire like that to bring awareness, but hopefully this can be
  2. No body was hurt or killed.
  3. A lot of the art and relics that were inside the cathedral are fine. In fact, since Notre Dame was under restoration, those things were already removed. The Crown of Thorns and the many statues that would have been inside are okay. Now- the fire was caused from the scaffolding because of said restoration, but again, trying to stay positive.
  4. It unified people. From what I have been seeing on social media- the loss and grief brought people together. Christians and Atheists alike came together in this time of grief over their mutual culture.
  5. At least it is repairable. Thankfully Notre Dame is mostly made of stone- sadly, the spire may probably be lost forever (but you never know, maybe they can save that too!), but at least it’s not bulldozed like the many Assyrian monuments in 2015.

Finally, where do I sign up?

After I gave myself 24 hours to grieve and sleep, my anger turned into… determination. I couldn’t do anything while the fire was happening- but now I’ve been thinking what can I do? Is there someplace legitimate I can donate to? (In times like this you have to be careful, so many awful awful people will start fundraising campaigns only to turn around and steal the money). Maybe they’ll take volunteer conservators who don’t have a masters degree, but quite a bit of experience? I don’t know if I honestly can up and leave and go to Europe again, but I’m willing to have my mind changed.

When a piece of culture endures destruction, it’s a tragedy that robs future generations of their past. We can’t be complacent and let our culture be destroyed, but when it happens, it’s more important than ever to come together and do our small part to prevent our beauty, history, and legacy to slip away.

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Sick Days

Hey all, sorry for not having posted the last couple of days, but I got sick, so I couldn’t bring myself to wake up at 5 am like the original plan, let alone spend an alloted time on art. So I guess I really did fail the challenge, huh? Oh well. I passed the first one, so I’m not discouraged.

I did manage to make some progress. I am feeling a lot better today compared to yesterday, but I’m still trying to take it easy.

Here are a couple things worked on the last couple days. A study of Caravaggio’s David and Goliath and I started a new portrait.

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7 Day Lazy Morning Challenge: Day 4: Sketchbook Drawing

I don’t have a lot of time to post this morning, but in a few words: Too tired, hard time getting up, wasn’t able to continue the painting from yesterday like I planned, opted to draw from my binder of old master references instead.

Let’s just say, thank God I had everything set up the way it did, otherwise I wouldn’t have done any art practice this morning at all- which is worse than spending 30 minutes on a sketch.

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7 Day Lazy Morning Challenge: Day 5: Merchantman

So… technically, I failed this challenge. I did wake up at 5, but then I went back to bed and slept for two more hours. The fact that I didn’t have to work today was sort of a de-motivator. Even so, I did get up at just a little before 8, which is still a decent morning time.

I also planned to work on this painting for an hour, but I found that I was satisfied with it after 15 minutes.

The above painting is technically fanart. This is the Banu Merchantman from Star Citizen. My husband wanted this painting for a couple of years now. Shortly before getting married, he paid for the canvas, and now, after several months, it’s finally done. It’s finally at a point where I’m happy with it- or at least- if I do anything more to do, I’ll over do it and ruin it.

Above are the reference photos from the Star Citizen website. I combined these two images to make the final product. https://starcitizen.tools/Merchantman

Pictured above is the process, from the preliminary sketches to almost the completed work.

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7 Day Lazy Morning Challenge: Day 3: Under drawing of my sister

This morning as a little rough, unfortunately, I started this morning watching some YouTube videos on my phone, but that’s okay. Still Managed to get 45 minutes total worth of work done.

I started a painting of my younger sister who I also happen to teach art.