Improve Your Art Skills! - or How To Look At The Wounded Deer.

You want to get better at drawing, right? And better at painting, composing and designing too!

Then you have to learn to look at the wounded deer!

"Wait whaaat?!?"

No, I didn't just whisper a secret code that will give you access to a members only club.

I'm talking about your work, dear. You've got to learn how to look at it in its most vulnerable and ugly state. No covering your eyes, no flinching, and especially no condemning judgment.

Why no judgment? Let me explain.

When you learn something new it usually all makes perfect sense while the instructor is talking and demonstrating, but once it comes to you implementing the new concepts it often won't come out the way you want it to. This of course gets to you, and depending on your grip on your temper, frustration levels may rise quickly. Before you know it you have thoughts like this going through your head:

"This sucks! Ugh, what was I thinking signing up for this drawing class? I'm not good at this! I hate this teacher and this stupid exercise! I'm just gonna draw the way I always draw!"

And just like that you cut yourself off from a great opportunity to grow. You go back to your old habits and don't learn to master that new concept. How tragic!!

Believe me, I get it, I've been there countless times myself. Casting that blanket judgment at least feels like you finally are putting an end to it. No more suffering your own inadequacies. No more watching the proverbial deer suffer its dying breaths.

But here is the thing, there is a chance that you can save that damn deer. How? Hike up your sleeves and focus! Now ask yourself some pointed questions: "What did I just learn? What feels wrong here? Is the deer in acute need of a proportion adjustment? Does it need a trim or an extension? Should it be re-positioned? Would adjusting the color/value/texture alleviate its pain?"

If any considerations sound remotely worthwhile, get to work and see if it changes anything. Then pause and re-asses, again.

If you want to save that deer you have to do the ugly, ungraceful work of following your best guess. No guarantees. But once you learn to hold that gaze long enough to actually see what is wrong you have overcome the first major hurdle on your way to mastery.

So the next time when looking at your art gives you a stomach cramp don't run away! Take a deep breath and take a look how you can help. Even if it's a lost cause... at least you didn't just let it die.