It’s amazing how many times I can make the same mistake in my creative process. I think it’s because I am ridiculously stubborn, or I am hopelessly optimistic about level of artistic problem-solving abilities. (Who do I think I am, the artsy version of McGyver?)
LESSON LEARNED NO. 1: If you don’t love your drawing, you will NOT love your painting.
This becomes most apparent to me when I am working on a series of illustrations for a course. For every illustration that I deem course-worthy (like this super, sweet pup pictured in this post), there’s another that doesn’t make the cut. Last year, I painted all of them – the good and the not-so-good. And the lesson I learned over and over again was that if I didn’t like the drawing or it didn’t make sense, there wasn’t a color on my palette or a white ink marker that could fix what was already broken in my mind. Which meant that I spent a massive amount of time painting stuff that I knew would not make the cut. I have come up with a few ways to identify whether or not I should complete my illustrations. Hopefully they’ll help you save your creative sanity, too!
- Did you erase lines/areas/entire drawing so many times that the paper is compromised? Are there pencil marks and indentations in your paper that you can’t get rid of? Toss it!
- Is your subject easily recognizable? Does your horse look like a cow? Dog look like a dear? Start over.
- Have you drawn the subject with the necessary perspective and scale? If your animal was a living, breathing thing, is it put together correctly?
- Did you add imaginative elements to hide an area you couldn’t draw? Like a dress, shoes or hat? Don’t waste a good sheet of watercolor paper. Grab a sketchbook and practice the animal without all the fun stuff until you are confident with your ability to draw the animal.
- And last, but not least, do you love your drawing? If not, don’t add paint. Your time and energy are much more valuable than a piece of paper. If you are unsure, set it aside and work on a new illustration. You can always decide later if the old one is worth finishing.
P.S. I made a little WILDLIFE inspired, 3-page coloring book for you. You can download it HERE! And if you love them, I hope you’ll consider joining my new, year-long course, WILDLIFE while it’s on sale! You can join HERE! (Sale ends at midnight, December 31, 2021 PST.)