Looking Back

One of the really challenging things about being an artist is self-doubt. It plagues us all, and often times that nagging voice that tells us we aren’t good enough is hard to silence. I’ve written posts that touch on this before (Am I Good Enough?, Staying Motivated), but today I wanted to focus on one very important part of trying to quiet that mental doubt. 

These two drawing are of the same horse, but you can see the improvement in detail between the two.

Especially when you’re working on a really challenging piece, it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come. One of the best pieces of advice I have is to save all of your old work, even if it’s just a scan or a picture. When you’re really stuck or feeling down, go back and look at those older pieces, and take a think about how far you’ve come. 

Another comparison: two lizards, one drawn when I was just starting out with coloured pencils, and one a few years later. Just a bit of a difference!

Because you will have improved, and when you’re struggling with your art or with comparing yourself to others, it’s so easy to forget that. It’s too easy to focus on the negatives, and that way of thinking can get you to stop drawing entirely. By taking a step back, reviewing your older works, you can see that you have improved. And if you’re not where you want to be yet, well, you’ll keep improving. I know that five years from now I’ll look at the art I’m doing currently and will be amazed at how much I’ve grown as an artist. 

So every so often, I go back through the folder on my computer titled ‘old art’ and just browse it, reminding myself how much better my skills have gotten, and knowing I still have a lot of room left for improvement. Sometimes we all need to take a look back and see how far we’ve come. 

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