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!

  1. 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!
  2. Is your subject easily recognizable? Does your horse look like a cow? Dog look like a dear? Start over.
  3. Have you drawn the subject with the necessary perspective and scale? If your animal was a living, breathing thing, is it put together correctly?
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.)


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