Motivation and the Ease of Not Trying

Once again, it’s been a long time. I’ve got no excuses, just the hope that I’ll get better at updating this page and increasing my art output.

I painted this watercolor picture about 8 months ago, and have recently been working hard on getting into painting Windstones again. It’s been refreshing and nice to concentrate on something productive after a year of being relatively unproductive.

Motivation is always the killer, and the most substantial wall blocking me from improving on my art. This last year has been probably one of the biggest motivation killers I’ve ever had.

My goal this year is simple. I need to practice more, plan less. I get hung up on things not being “perfect”, even though nothing ever is, and I let those hang-ups help kill my motivation because it’s just easier not to try. Watching TV is easier. Playing games is easier. If I want to improve I need to learn to motivate myself, even if it is manufactured.

Because in the long run, I love to make art. Looking back at old pieces – as flawed as they can be, and as imperfect as they are – lifts me up. I get a boost of serotonin just from seeing even the smallest improvements. Imagine how it would feel to improve in a major way! It must be achieved in small steps – ones that I may not even notice until I look back.

How do you motivate yourself to achieve things?


Buzz told me recently that he was really glad that I have stuck with something.  It made me laugh but also made me feel deeply proud.  I know I have the tendency to try out new mediums, go all-in and intend to create a thousand things using one medium and then get tired of it, or bored, and let my progress fall by the wayside.

Watercolors have really held my attention and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why.  When I was a child I hated watercolors, and because of that experience I am certain that it colored my view of it as an adult.  I was staunchly unwilling to give it another try until I was in my 30’s because I was convinced that it was a form of art that I wasn’t interested in.  It was too delicate, it was too fussy, the colors always end up looking muddy.

At some point I started watching “speed paints” on youtube and realized that I hadn’t been entirely fair to watercolors.  They can be fussy, sure, but that’s part of their beauty.  With experience, you can be relatively certain how a watercolor picture is going to look by the time you’re done, but as a novice there’s certainly a lot of trying and guessing, putting things down on paper while being completely unsure of how it’s going to look in the end.  That’s certainly an adventure in itself.  And watercolors can be beautifully bold, but when they are delicate they are just as gorgeous, and the paint’s subtlety is one of its greatest strengths.

All of this is to say that I am excited about my progress.  I know I have the tendency to focus on female faces, and night skies, but I’m okay with that.  It may seem like I am repeating myself over and over again, but the more I do, the more finely tuned my art becomes and that’s exactly what I want to be working towards.

“Europa”, watercolor and white ink, was done for my sister and now resides on her dining room wall.  I feel like she has more of my original artwork than I do!

Another thing that I have been consciously trying to make sure that I do are color compositions.  I hadn’t really thought about having “drafts” of my artwork since school, but printing out  paper with mini versions of my final image and experimenting with different colors and values has not only been a really fun way to figure out a final version of a painting, but has given me more opportunities to experiment with different techniques and allowed me to practice how I want to set up the larger, finished painting.  Nothing is worse than thinking that I have the perfect vision in my head only to ruin the final version because my vision doesn’t jive with my paints.

Having this process also lets me mull over different possibilities over the course of a day or more, and go back and recreate the same colors  and test them on swatches of white in between the compositions, work out how I want to color in the detailing, or make sure that I have the colors on my palette mixed properly.

And here is the finished verison of the painting that I was working on the compositions for!  I will likely draw the same image again on more watercolor paper and use another composition from the above four to create a second version of this painting  because I like the composition, and of course because practicing makes me better at my craft.

From a different angle, to show the gold detailing.

“Halo” will be available very soon in my etsy store!  I will provide a link when I have the stock in my hands.  There will be two sizes available – an ACEO size, and a 5″x7″.  Both will have the gold detailing hand painted on them (The prints I have ordered of “Halo” were of pictures taken before any of the final gold detailing was laid down), and if you are interested in purchasing a print, please be sure to subscribe to my blog!  The second version of this piece will likely also be offered in prints as well, and I will update you on that as soon as I have them done.


Tuesday and Wednesday

Something that I have definitely noticed over the course of this month has been the relative swift change of my ability to look at a reference image and create (relatively) anatomically correct paintings.  I realize I still need work, and I firmly believe that improvement for an artist is never complete – it’s a lifelong endeavor – but I am quite pleased with the changes that I am seeing in my art after being firm with myself about needing visual references for every piece of art.  At least for art involving a person, and that’s what I’ve been focusing on lately.

At the beginning of the week, I set a goal to paint one picture or create one polymer clay piece per day.  You saw what I did on Monday in my last post, this is Tuesday:

And Wednesday:

I actually cheated a bit, and took Tuesday mostly off as I was feeling pretty under the weather.  I sketched out what I wanted to paint and did the line work, but I didn’t actually paint her until today.  But I made up for it by being sure to catch up!  Tomorrow, I plan to do two more.

Both of the pieces above are ACEO size (2.5″x3.5″) and are done in watercolor, white ink, and Monday’s black lines were done with a waterproof, archival pen.


The End of July

Typically, July is my month off from work.  My forced vacation.  Every July I promise myself that I will be more productive – I’ll paint more, I’ll work on more clay creatures.  Well, this July I actually have been more productive, if not as much as I wanted.  July may be over, but I have one week left of my vacation and I will be making the most of it.  Today, I painted this:

She reminds me of a character from the Last Unicorn named Lady Amalthea, mostly in color scheme.  I very much enjoyed painting her, even if it seems like I tend to rehash a lot of the same schemes and themes.  This was in ACEO format, which is 2.5″ x 3.5″ and was done in watercolor and white ink.

Earlier in the week I painted a couple more pictures of females.  I think my work on face proportions is starting to get better, mostly because I have swallowed my pride and actually actively look at sources while drawing out the sketch and trying to figure out where  my shadows should be.  I seem to be the most comfortable working small, so ACEO sizes are used almost exclusively.

And for the rest of the week, my goal is a simple 1 painting or clay creature per day.  The painting seems to come to me easier, but I am holding out hope that I will actually bother to get out my clay again and see where I can go with that.

Time will tell.