I have seen it many times! An aspiring artist, with a promising future, fails to produce what they are capable of. Why does this happen? How can someone who loves art and wants to succeed end up falling short of their potential? Why is it that some who are not naturally talented go farther than those with a gifting in art.
Having taught thousands of students throughout the years, I have observed several reasons this happens. In this post I will briefly highlight five mistakes students often make that limit their potential to become all they can be. Thankfully, each of these mistakes can be corrected if the artist chooses to recognize them and intentionally change the way they approach their pursuit of improvement.
- Artists fail because they mistake talent for skill.
Aspiring artists can achieve amazing results if they are willing to seek out help and learn skills from other successful artists. All too often I have heard students say something like, “I want to do my own thing” or “I don’t want anyone to tell me what to do.” This type of arrogance will keep any artist from creating great masterpieces. If you learn even one good tip from a teacher, the lessons will be worth it.
The young artist will miss their opportunity to grow because they have mistaken their interest and talent for skill. Master artist’s know that skill is achieved only by lots of practice and by learning from others.
- Artists fail because they don’t slow down.
Why are so many students disappointed in their artwork? Is it because they aren’t talented? Most often the real reason artistic students fail, is because they rushed through their project. They forget that a project is only as good as its weakest part.
Every time I go into a local restaurant, I am forced to look at a large painting on the wall. The head on the cowboy is not proportionate to the body – it is much too small. Even though the rest of the painting is excellent, that one flaw destroys the painting.
Remember this rule for creating fine art: “The faster you go, the more it will show.” Fine art is not a race. You need to work on each step slowly and carefully. Take many breaks from your project. When you come back with fresh eyes you will see things in a different way. Hold your picture up in front of a mirror. This will force you to see it with new eyes as the picture is reversed.
As you take your time and work carefully, your skill will grow, and you will see the quality of your artwork improving.
- Artists fail because they refuse to try new things.
Great artists love experimenting with new things. They learn to master many forms of art. Consider Davinci and Michelangelo. Both knew how to draw, paint and sculpt. Yet how often I see students who refuse to try new media. They refuse to try new techniques.
Different art media and styles teach us different ways of seeing and creating. We will learn different skills by experimenting with different media. However, If we refuse to branch out, we will miss out on the very things that will take our art to the next level.
- Artists fail because they view criticism as an attack.
It hurts the sensitive artist when someone criticizes their work. However, it is important they learn to view criticism as an opportunity for improvement. Because art is an expression of ourselves, it can be devastating to hear anything other than praise about our work.
However, if you are willing to listen to constructive criticism, that person will become very important to you. They are willing to be honest with you even though it hurts at the time. The most valuable critiques we can get as an artist will come from people who want us to succeed. So, let’s swallow our pride and intentionally ask for quality feedback.
- Artists fail because they quit too soon.
When students first come to my studio it is very natural for them to want to crumple up their project and throw it away. They are insecure and don’t want others to see that they are less than perfect. If they don’t learn to fix their mistakes instead of throwing them away, they will only become more frustrated.
Most projects do not look that great while it is in process. But persevere and learn to fix your mistakes. My brother, who is a successful homebuilder, once said to me, “The only difference between a professional and an ordinary person is that the professional has learned how to fix their mistakes.”
Look at the picture below. What if I had stopped at this point in the process, crumpled up the painting and threw it away? I could have quit many times during the process of painting The Girl with the Pearl Earring, but I didn’t. Eventually it looked wonderful! But I had to keep going and be willing to fail in order to celebrate the success of creating a masterpiece.
You too, can become a great artist! Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from fixing your mistakes. Instead look at every failure as the key to improving. If you fail this time, you will know how not to do something in the future.
I encourage you to find a good teacher who can teach you the skills that will help you improve in what you want to learn.
Remember that art is a skill anyone can learn.
Sharon Hofer, Founder and Teacher of Creating a Masterpiece. Learn more from Sharon by creating art with her at CreatingAMasterpiece.com
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