When You Are Struggling With Art

Hi friends!  I wanted to post a couple of comments I have shared with the Life Book group when folks have felt down about their art – either unhappy with the results, or just feeling intimidated when seeing other artists whose work they admire.  It is important to remember that everyone goes through moments of being unimpressed with what we create.  Please remember that the main thing that is done by the artists we love is they KEEP PUSHING FORWARD.  They didn’t allow themselves to be defeated or discouraged when what they see on their page doesn’t match what is in their head.  Don’t give up.  Every time we create, we learn, and we move closer to where we want to be.

Posted to Life Book Facebook Group January 15, 2016:

Art Comparison

Hi all – I’ve been seeing some frustration from folks that are unhappy with how their art journey is going, and I wanted to share this. Bear in mind I am still a newbie myself, so I may not be qualified to give the best art advice, but I was JUST on that side of frustration and I feel like I’m pushing through to the light on the other side and I wanted to maybe help pull others through too!

I started watching Tam’s videos a couple months ago. I was never interested in drawing people, but Tam is very inspiring! After watching a bunch of youtube vids, I drew the one on the right and started painting it. I started off pleased I could draw a face at all, but overall I was very unhappy and frustrated that I couldn’t do it well. I had no concept or idea, I just started painting, and I didn’t do it while following Tam’s steps in real time.

On the left is my Happy Traveler from last week- this is only my 4th or 5th face and only about 2 months after I started, and while it’s still no masterpiece, what a difference from the first!

So my message here is: please, don’t give up. Don’t think that you’re “never going to be able to do it.” Don’t think you’re not good enough. And definitely DON’T BE AFRAID TO START AT ALL! <3 As has been said before – you wouldn’t expect to pick up a guitar and start playing well, or start on a new language and be fluent immediately! 🙂 Practice. If you are having trouble and are new to art, supplement Life Book with other learning: Read art books (the library has lots!) and soak in youtube videos about painting, drawing, color theory, and how to use your materials.

And something I learned: Pay attention to the lesson’s steps, do it along with the lesson in real time (pause when needed)- and pay attention to the details, and take it slow! In the beginning, I watched some vids, then sat down like “Ok I got this” and just started flailing around the pencil and paints and expected to recreate the teacher’s work. That didn’t work. smile emoticon In the beginning, do it step by step with the instructor. Pay attention to the shapes and proportions, and don’t skimp on those lovely little details that can make all the difference (highlights, doodles, etc) Don’t give up on those “middle stages” – these things can look unpretty before the details come in!

But, if you are trying and its just NOT working out on a piece, know that its OKAY if you just need to start on a fresh piece of paper, too! Treasure all of your art making – even the frustrating ones, because they can be the best lessons. You now know you enjoy doing x but noy y, or that one material doesn’t play well with that one. You didn’t know that before..but now you do! How cool is that?

While working on a piece, do what you can, and keep it fun – don’t stress out if it’s not exactly how you imagined. You know the great thing? There is always a “next time,” so don’t be afraid! The world won’t end if that one piece isn’t perfect! Every single “next time” you will go in better “armed”, with more knowledge about drawing, composition, painting, how your materials work, and you will INEVITABLY improve! If you keep at it, its impossible to NOT improve. The length of this journey can vary by person, but we are ALL moving forward. The only thing you need to do is show up and start.

Enjoy the feeling of learning, let that wash over you, revel in how you are spending time on something that you love, that you are learning a new skill that will bring you joy, and know that every brush and pencil stroke brings you one step further along on your journey. Remember: RELAX! (my word of 2016!) It’s okay to be where you are. Be proud of where you are! Art is a fascinating thing… You just created something out of nothing… That is AMAZING regardless of where we are on our path. Smile at that! Just keep playing, keep creating, and that flow will take you forward.


Posted to Life Book Facebook Group – Comment To Another Artist – April 18, 2016

As Roxanne says above, challenge is a good thing, and it is okay if you don’t feel you’ve shined in your first attempt at a challenge. That happens to everyone! It is important to push past what we are comfortable with. It is the only way we can grow in anything we set out to do.

That being said, I also think it is OKAY if you don’t find yourself enjoying every single type of art or process! Trying something new and discovering that it may not be for us also carries us further on our path towards where we actually want to be. Give new things a full chance and a try and push, several times to completion, and if you still feel like it is just not for you – move on to another form of creation that makes you happy. You can always revisit the style and technique at a later time if you desire.  🙂 Remember that you CAN do it! It may take some practice to get where you want to be, but we all CAN do it. If you don’t “prefer” to do it, though, that is okay too! 🙂

I want to say that I really like where the page is going. It has a dark and moody feel at the moment (which may actually reflect what you’ve been feeling, and it is cool that you are able to capture your mood!) I think it has great potential…and even if you are not thrilled, if you’d like you can continue to work on it from that perspective. I didn’t watch the full lesson yet, but im guessing a darker tone doesn’t quite fit the theme of the lesson, but I’ve found that most Life Book lessons just ignite a spark and then I let them take me wherever they need to take me, not worrying about sticking to the lesson strictly. And exploring the darker side of our emotions can produce some powerful art. So don’t give up – and don’t worry about “wasting paper” or materials – they are there to be used, they want to be used, and they will always make more. Every time you use them, you learn, so keep going!


I am in the middle of some art pieces which I am not thrilled with myself (hence this “inspirational” post instead of an artwork posting!) but I will forge on ahead!   And probably sign up for a few more classes.  Donna Downey has been having some workshop specials, you know…

Video: Acrylic Mixed Media Portrait – Chrysalis

Mixed Media Acrylic Portrait Painting - Chrysalis

Good day wonderful people! 🙂  I had a bit of a break due to the studio organization and a family visit, but I am back today with a new mixed media art process video.  A new girl has joined my portfolio! Her name is Chrysalis (thanks to a random dictionary page that showed up in the collage) and she was created mostly with watercolor Spectrum Aquablend pencils and acrylics – both Golden fluid and basic Americana craft paints.

Mixed Media Acrylic Portrait Painting - Chrysalis

You can watch the time lapse creation video below:

I wanted to try my hand at several painterly layers, and I had the idea of piling layers and designs into a girl’s hair flowing upward, and so she was born.  I try to pay attention to color theory when selecting my palette, and this time I went with a primary triad of turquoise, magenta and yellow.  These colors can make some beautiful mixes, as you can see in the spots of greens and purples on the painting, but for the most part I tried to keep the colors shining on their own.

Mixed Media Acrylic Portrait Painting - Chrysalis

I learned a few things during this process and other lessons were reinforced:
  • There is always an ugly stage (or five) where you will want to give up or you will wonder “Oh no, what did I do?!” but you need to trust the process and keep moving forward.  It won’t start to come together until you add more layers and details!
  • It is okay to dive in with the paintbrush even if you don’t know where you are going with it.  If you take too much time to plan it out, you may never go anywhere and you may be disappointed when the paper does not match the image in your head.  Have fun with your mark making and later you can bring it all together.
  • You have to be willing to give up previous layers to get to a better place.   There are going to be moments when you are afraid of “messing up” or losing a layer/design that you particularly like.  If you are still in an early stage of the painting, you may need to let it go so the whole piece can grow and deepen.  Remember, it is just paint, and you can bring something back later if you want!
  • Fine tip applicators take practice 😀
  • Golden fluids take a long time to dry when applied thickly or sprayed with water, so keep a few other in-progress pieces handy to work on in the meantime.

Mixed Media Acrylic Portrait Painting - Chrysalis

Supplies used:

Mixed Media Acrylic Portrait Painting - Chrysalis

Thanks for stopping by today!  Please consider subscribing here and at my YouTube channel, and join me on Facebook so you can see new works in progress.  Have a great day!

DISCLAIMER: Affiliate links used when able. Thank you for your support!

Video: Watercolor & Acrylic Painting – Purple Winged Girl (With Modeling Paste)

Watercolor Acrylic Mixed Media Painting - Purple Girl

Greetings friends!  Today I have a new mixed media art process video as promised.  A new girl has come to life with the help of oodles of different paints, pencils and markers.  She proved to be a lesson in perseverance and patience (I supposed most art is, at least when you are still new!)   Some techniques worked as expected, and others, like the butterfly in her hair, did not even after several attempts.  I learned that this just forces you to look at the art and your problem from a different angle, opening your eyes to new ideas.

Of course, there is always the old fallback:  if you don’t like it or it is not working… cover it up! 🙂  Don’t be afraid to push a little out of your comfort zone to try new materials, techniques, colors, or subject matter.   The process will teach you lessons you can take to your next piece of art, and the only way to get there is to keep experimenting!

Process Video:

More Details:

This was my first play with Spectrum AquaBlend watercolor pencils!  I don’t have much luck with fully dissolving watercolor pencil lines, so I took a wet brush to the tips of several skin tones to shade in her face.  As usual, Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pens (what a mouthful!) were used for her hair and eyes, and Prismacolor colored pencils and Posca pens filled in details.

Watercolor Acrylic Mixed Media Painting - Purple Girl

Modeling/texture paste by Liquitex added some interest to the background with the help of a stencil.  Daniel Smith watercolors and Golden fluid acrylics were painted in vibrant purples and blues.  Doodles are a fun way to add more detail to backgrounds.

Watercolor Acrylic Mixed Media Painting - Purple Girl

I tried repeatedly to paint the butterfly in her hair, but, ack!  No luck!  So I dug into my papercrafting stash and found some die-cuts of flowers and butterflies.  These saved the day!  I added more paint and markers to make them my own, and the piece was complete.  Yay!

Watercolor Acrylic Mixed Media Painting - Purple Girl

Supplies used:

Watercolor Acrylic Mixed Media Painting - Purple Girl

Whew!  I told you everything went into this art piece! 🙂   I hope this post and video have inspired you.  Special thank you to Tamara Laporte at willowing.org for her teachings and inspiration.  Please remember to subscribe here and over at my YouTube channel to check out future art and process videos.

Thank you everyone!  I’ll catch you soon!

Disclaimer: Affiliate links used when possible. Thank you for your support!

Watercolor Cupcake Bunny & Art Studio Cleanup!

Watercolor Cupcake Bunny

Hello wonderful friends!  A late post today due to too much fussing with notification emails here.  If this message is brought to you by a wonky email, I’ll try again next time! 😉

I have been busy this week cleaning up the ol’ studio, so art making is temporarily on hold… as you can see, I’m sort of an art supply junkie, and I’m not neat about it!  Oh my!

Art Studio - Before

Art Studio - Before

The studio is in my unfinished basement to keep the mess and any smells or fumes away from my parrot (I’m sure you will all meet him here soon…), so it’s not quite the kind of art space you’ll see in magazines or on Pinterest.  I hope when I am done remodeling, it will at least provide hope and inspiration to others that are stuck in “unpretty” spaces.  Finished pics and a tour will be posted soon!

In the meantime, I will share a cute bunny watercolor illustration I made during the holidays for my dear friends!

Watercolor Cupcake Bunny

This little guy was sketched out and then colored with Kuretake Zig Real Brush Pens and Caran d’Ache Neocolor II crayons.  I then drew cupcakes on watercolor paper, filled them in with the Kuretake markers (activated with water), cut them out and (more…)

Video: PanPastel & Watercolor Portrait: Done Is Better Than Perfect

PanPastel Watercolor Mixed Media Portrait

Hello friends!  Happy Monday!   I am starting off the week with a new mixed media art process video for you – this simple but nutty red-head portrait done in watercolors, watercolor pencils, PanPastels and Faber-Castell Pitt black pen.  She was a quick but fun before-work project using basic techniques, which you can watch in the video below! 🙂

She was sketched loosely in Spectrum Aquablend watercolor pencil, with the lines later activated with water to soften them and provide some shading.  Green watercolor pencil was added for the eyes, as well as some black liner for basic details.  Holbein watercolors in red and yellow formed her hair, and PanPastel and more watercolor pencil defined it further.  She was blushed and given freckles at the end.

PanPastel Watercolor Mixed Media Portrait

I recently watched a lesson by Dina Wakley, and she said (more…)