Art Discussion

What is the best way to overcome seeing the flaws in your own work? How can we stop focusing on the mistakes and celebrate the good in our work?

By Derek Lowes


  • Derek Lowes artist
    Derek Lowes (@nervepixel)
    05/27/2020 @ 3:00pm

    No matter how much I progress on my art journey I seem to always fall behind myself by thinking my work is sub-par or just not good - but what is good? And why do I continue to imprison myself with such a critical eye? Or why and how did my eye get so self-deprecating? Yes, I know it's all my issue; in most cases I do like my own work, and I like the challenge of growing as an artist. I am not looking for praise or affirmation. Art is something I have done for as long as I can remember and for me it is a form of therapy. I recall hunkering down with whatever I could scavenge as a child usually a dull pencil and the back of an envelope or a few old clumps of plasticine. I would scratch out a scene or put a story together in my head and then somehow begin to manifest it into the real world either on paper or by modelling out tiny distorted figures. It was a way to escape the sometimes dark corners of my childhood. Now years later it is still with me and I continue to keep it close - but it can be a plague and a curse. I think anyone that does art in some form has a reason for it or a motive. For me it may be a little too personal - maybe this is why I am so critical towards my own work. I hope one day I can just be happy with it and in the same sense I guess happy with myself. I know I'm getting heavy - I'll stop now. I hope with your input to make better sense of this. I can say that my critical eye has never stopped me from continuing. I am lucky this hasn't happened. I hate the idea of people not continuing to pursue art because they don't think they're good enough. I do feel in most cases illustration is a skill and not a gift - it can be learned and mastered on many different levels. WE decide the direction we take. There is a difference between illustration and "art" I think, but this is for another discussion. I look forward to hearing about how others feel about their own work and how they are connected to it.

  • Marlon Boettger artist
    Marlon Boettger (@marlonboettger)
    06/07/2020 @ 1:35pm

    Probably one of the hardest topics, because it's so personal and emotional. I found that not putting aside my own expectations and holding on to my taste helped me. By that I mean that when I shared my grievances with other people they always told me to just do it, draw what I want and everything is going to be alright. But it didn't get better. So I studied the things I wanted to study which other people told me are useless (one teacher once told me that studying anatomy is useless because you can draw what you see anyways). It certainly ended up in more work and more study, but slowly I progressed to a point, where I actually started doing things that looked and felt like me. Now when looking back, I see a lot of good things in works that I once thought bad. I think you become more forgiving towards yourself when you start moving into the direction that your intuition tells you to. Because that nagging feeling of not liking your stuff may tell you something. Wether that you are doing too much of what other people tell you to or that you haven't yet fully developed an idea what your taste is. At least that might be some aspects of it... it's all in that wonderful mysterious unknown thing that we call subconscious... :)

  • Michael artist
    Michael (@Akeru)
    07/10/2020 @ 7:56pm

    I also suffer from the idea of not being good enough for myself. I think to study anatomy and all of these different techniques but when I get down to it I personally think I just havent fully realized my own style yet. So when I have a rough idea of what I want to draw; I'll get disappointed with how it's coming out. I think its because the idea wasn't clear enough? What tends to help for me is taking a break from that picture; whether it be a few minutes or a few hours. When I come back to it my eye is more objective and I can see which parts of the picture needs more attention/retouching.

  • Maia Palomar artist
    Maia Palomar (@mapalomar)
    08/22/2020 @ 5:21pm

    I understand what you're saying, and I experience the same thing. For me, I'm always criticizing my art or any work I do, and it become almost a battle with myself to see something good, or any worth, in my work. Art has always been a form of expression, often I find it easier to vent and release things through art rather than using words. I have this weird thing where I can't look at my old art with becoming upset. I have a hard time taking my art for what it is at the time, rather than using it to look at how far I've come or what I've learned. With smaller pieces, the more spontaneous ones I do, I have less of an issue with judging them, which I'm unsure of why that is. Larger/long term pieces are often a battle for me. I'll go through moments of completely hating the piece, then once I fix it, there's a gratifying moment of being pleased in seeing the progress from where it once was, and I remember why I made the piece. I definitely have an issue of stopping work on a piece, especially when I know there's something I can improve upon. I'd say when you fall into a moment of over criticizing your work, simply step back, just make yourself stop. The more you continue to work in this state, the worse it becomes because it feels like no matter what you do, it's not good enough (based on personal experience, of course). You may have to step back for a few hours or few days, but I wouldn't go back to the piece until you can look at it and remember the happiness or good feeling that creating it originally gave you. I suppose the critical eye never ends up disappearing for me, but it becomes me acknowledging what I can improve on, what the piece means to me, and the personal "purpose" it serves.

  • Kelly Ann Scheffer artist
    Kelly Ann Scheffer (@KellyAnn)
    08/23/2020 @ 10:11am

    I only stop seeing flaws years after I finish or abandon a piece. I remember hating it because I saw was flaws, but when I look at it, I can't seem to find them anymore.

  • Tina Marie artist
    Tina Marie (@BLESSED13)
    11/03/2020 @ 3:09pm

    I believe that my judgement of my art stems from other kids ridiculing's of my art. Then being told it was a way to disconnect from working on self and my true reality. This statement sent me back at least 2 years from not doing anything creative especially with my hands. I had to re affirm that my art and creations are special and they are mine. If I can praise others for their doodles then I can praise me for mine.

  • Megan Brougham Cook artist
    Megan Brougham Cook (@cookie99)
    07/29/2021 @ 11:13am

    I think mistakes make us who we are. Self criticism is a sign of intelligence. It will help you grow as an artist and a person. Always try to give yourself constructive criticism and don’t beat yourself up too much. Sometimes imperfection is actually perfect.

  • Akuche Chimaobi Emmanuel artist
    Akuche Chimaobi Emmanuel (@Hover)
    01/16/2022 @ 8:53am

    Just see that every step is a progress, don't compare your journey to another person and see that u don't have a preconceived notion when starting any art piece, just have an open mind. Hover.

  • Francesco Zanoni artist
    Francesco Zanoni (@FrancescoZanoni)
    05/02/2024 @ 11:01am

    What helped me was realizing that even big famous artists have limitations. This is very clear with manga/comic book artists Hirohiko Araki and Rob Liefeld. They make some bizarre mistakes with drawing human anatomy and other things. However, it is clear to me that, despite being very flawed artists, they have a strong passion for doing what they do and they just keep creative momentum. And they are incredibly successful! Unfortunately, we have a school system that focus heavily on the subjects we struggle understanding and not in the things we're good at. And so, from a young age, we learn to focus too much on our weaknesses, instead of exploring our strengths.

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