Every artist has had the experience of creating something they aren’t proud of. They have sketchbooks full of work they hope will never be seen and recycling bins loaded up with false starts. The creation of visual art is often full of work that is considered to not be “good”. It’s what you choose to do with the bad drawings that will set you apart as a great artist.
Have you ever heard “comparison is the thief of joy” before? When you look at your drawings you may not think they’re as great as some of your favorite artists work, or even what you consider to be your best drawing. However, this doesn’t negate your abilities and talent. Your least favorite attempt is no less important than your great work.
It may seem hard to believe that a bad drawing has any merit at all, but bad drawings can make you a great artist. Whether you’ve been in art school for years or drawing is merely your hobby, you can be great!
Here are five ways to help you change your mindset on your rough drafts and great mistake drawings so that you can recognize the benefit that they bring to your artistic career.
Don’t Get Discouraged When Practicing Art
The truth is that if every artist understands the poor sketching and drawing experience, then you are not alone. Very few people are suddenly capable of creating the perfect drawing without putting in the work. Don’t discount your talent or ability: art takes work. (It is called artwork after all!)
If you allow yourself to be demotivated when you don’t create exactly what you have set out to make, you’re only limiting yourself. The world is not going to be radically changed by your mistakes and poorly executed sketches. If you simply give up because of a bad drawing you could be denying the world the great art you’ve yet to create!
Finding yourself becoming frustrated about the fact that the work coming out from the end of your pencil isn’t great? Well, there are erasers on pencils for a reason! Mistakes are bound to happen, accept them for what they are: good practice. One you believe that each drawing is just a stepping stone along the way to the art you’re longing to create, you can move on and continue creating.
If you allow your frustration and disappointment to get the better of you, you may give up and stop creating art altogether. You will never draw a masterpiece if you give up. Don’t allow your discouragement with your abilities to get in the way of your passion for art. Your self worth is not equal to your talent with art.
The drawing being bad doesn’t mean that YOU are bad. The drawing being bad doesn’t even mean that you are bad at drawing. Sometimes for no reason at all, drawings don’t turn out the way you’d like. There can be many different reasons for the unexpected outcome of a bad drawing, but don’t let your disappointment lead you to quit!
It may take some practice to change your mindset, but once you are able to change the way you see your bad drawings, you will be more prepared for a life as an artist. Keeping a growth mindset will not only improve your artistic ability, but also your perspective for life!
Set Goals For Improving as an Artists
The educational system with a results-orientated standard grading system works well for many subjects, but it doesn’t suit the arts well. Because everything in the artistic world isn’t results-based. Let your shelf of old sketchbooks prove to you that you’ve worked hard to get where you are, and failures don’t mean that you can’t keep improving.
Would you rather have one great drawing or great fundamental drawing skills? Drawing is a skill that needs to be worked and developed. And just because you are awesome at drawing tractors doesn’t mean that you have to be skilled at drawing tigers. Your specific drawing techniques and talents may not look like everyone else. That’s what makes each piece unique.
A good place to start is to look at the drawings you aren’t happy with and analyze them. What is it about the drawing that you’re not happy with? When you narrow in your focus on what you don’t like you can set a reasonable goal to work on the specific skill that will help you improve in the area.
If you aren’t sure how to set a reasonable goal for drawing or improving your skills, set a quantity goal. Decide that you’ll work on two drawings every day. At the end of a month, you’ll have sixty more drawings under your belt and at the very least, you can feel proud of the tall stack of paper that you’ve worked on.
Having goals can help you stay focused on the next step in your achievements as an artist. Keep your current goal written down where you can see it often, the fridge, a bulletin board, or even your bathroom mirror is a great place to visualize your goal. Keep your eye on the prize: great work. But don’t let the bad ones distract you from accomplishing your goals.
Earn the Good Drawings
Even professional artists have to put in work. You can earn your good drawings by warming up and flushing out the bad work. Think of art to be a little bit like a faucet. Sometimes you turn on a faucet and rusty gross water comes out. But when you let it run a minute or two the clear water will appear.
Creativity and artistic talent can also work a little like a faucet. Professional artists understand that when they begin working in the morning they will have to warm up a little before the great work happens. This warm-up period can be even longer for hobby artists and those who have been away from drawing for a while.
Make the decision to prefer bad drawings over not drawing. That can be a tough pill to swallow and it may weed out those who don’t have the grit to overcome their bad drawings. Sticking with the drawings you don’t like and eventually, you will create those great drawings. It may take time, but earning your good drawings is worth the effort.
Consistency and Effort Will Help You Become a Better Artist
The road to success is paved with bad drawings. Think of preschoolers as they begin to draw people. Often, it’s little stick people with a circle and some lines coming out of it. And when a small child creates this person, people cheer and celebrate their talent. Because it’s the first step to artistic talent. Everyone begins with these overly simplified people.
But certainly, the expectation of artists changes as your hand/eye coordination, talent, and ability grows. Whether you’ve been drawing daily every day since you were six years old or you haven’t drawn since your high school art class, you can still become a talented artist if you really want to. You just have to be willing to put in the work to develop your talent and skills.
Remember the basic goal of drawing at least two pictures every day? Once that seems easy, it’s time to move towards the next goal. Change your yardstick and put in more and more effort in order to see more and more improvement.
If one artist is drawing two pictures every day, and another artist is drawing for two hours every day, it’s likely the person putting in more time is going to see improvement sooner. If you’re looking for drawings that are higher quality than what you’ve currently capable of, then you need to put in more consistency and effort.
Artists don’t just wake up one day with great talent. Talent and skills are developed over time. Remember, we all started with the same little stick people. It’s deciding to move beyond basic figures that will delineate the artists from everyday individuals. If you want to create great drawings you can if you keep trying.
Think back to the old faucet. If you turned it on and saw gross, murky water and immediately shut it off over and over again, you would never get to the clear water. If you aren’t willing to put effort into your artwork consistently, you will be unable to see any improvement. Make the investment in yourself to work hard and try.
Keep Learning Art
In order to see steady improvements in your art, you have to keep working and learning. Perhaps you decide that you want to block out a chunk of time every day to simply work on your drawings. By making that drawing time non-negotiable in your life you are declaring that your art is important and your mindset will help you accomplish what you’re hoping for: good drawings.
But if you find as you’re drawing that you just can’t get this one thing right no matter how much you practice, it’s likely you need some outside help. Taking a class to brush up on your art fundamentals can be just the solution you’re looking for to make big artistic strides and draw the pictures you’ll be proud of.
A classroom, whether virtual or in-person, can give the feedback artists need to continue improving in safe environments. Learning techniques and tips from an art teacher can also benefit you and help your skill set grow. You may have just wanted help learning how to draw hands (they’re hard!), but maybe you’ll get some tips on how to better draw eyes too.
Making the commitment to keep learning will help your skills and ability to create the art that you’re hoping for. Maybe your bad drawing was the original motivation for signing up for a class in the first place: that’s great. You will never be proud of every drawing that you create, but as you keep learning, more often than not you’ll be satisfied with your art.
One bad drawing or even lots of bad drawings are not an indication of your talent and self-worth. Occasionally even the best artists fall into slumps. It can take a change of perspective to embrace your bad artwork as a step towards great art, but don’t get hung up on a bad drawing!
You just need to keep going! It may take years before you are creating the work you’re imagining but when you are committed to the process, have a growth mindset, and decide to keep learning, you will be one step closer to great drawings. A simple sketch may just be the foundation of something amazing!