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Don’t throw them away

This is something that I’ve mentioned on other pages and I make no apology for mentioning it again here. When you’ve finished a drawing or painting that you’re not very pleased with, DO NOT throw it away. Every picture has its good points and bad points and there is much to learn from every painting, no matter how bad it is. In fact, we only learn from our mistakes. When a picture turns out well it fills us with satisfaction, which is great, but it doesn’t actually teach us anything. It means we executed everything we know correctly, but adds nothing to our skill set. But when a picture turns out poorly, despite the dissatisfaction we feel, we can see where we went wrong, understand what we should have done, and file away a mental note to avoid that issue next time. Learning by Trial and Error is a great way to gain experience. It means “try something and note the errors”. Most artists I know love to experiment, and ‘experiment’ is another way of saying ‘see what happens’.

There is another reason to keep all of your paintings. Validation!! There are times when we get very frustrated when our art doesn’t turn out as we’d intended. We all experience it … I know I do… a lot. There are times when we feel we are just not making any progress; times when we feel we’ve lost the knack; times when we feel we’ll never be any good at it. These are the times when it’s good to pull out some of our earliest efforts and amaze ourselves at how far we’ve come. Yes, “amaze ourselves”, because it truly is amazing how much progress we make without ever realising it. In my forum I’ve often seen members telling of how they recently stumbled over some of their old work and couldn’t believe how much progress they’ve made.

When we start out we compare our work with that of the artist whose work we’re copying, even though we can’t hope to be as good as they are. If we join a group, we compare our work to that of our peers, even though they may have been painting much longer than us. But in truth, the only artist we should be comparing ourselves to…. is ourselves. Only by comparing our current work to previous efforts can we measure and understand our progress, and it is seeing our progress that satisfies us, rewards us, encourages us and inspires us to pick up our brushes and make some more art.

Please visit “My Disasters” to see how you can find the positives in seriously poor paintings.