My mindset has changed over the last few weeks. Since starting my #draw365 project I’m starting to see everything that has been said about harnessing creativity is true: the more you create, the less you will be stuck for ideas. If you practise every day you will see yourself improve. The less you trawl through Instagram looking for “inspiration” (when really you’re just wondering why you can’t paint like that), the more time you will have to learn how to paint like that.

This all sounds pretty obvious. But it wasn’t so long ago I was reading various articles and blogs promising that the more you actually draw/paint the better you will get. Millennial entitlement syndrome kicked in: but I want to be good NOW. I don’t want to spend months or even years developing a style. That will take too long! It will be too late by then! (Cue quarter-life crisis). I will be too old! No-one will look at my Instagram feed! There’s no point! Gaaaaah!

Shut up brain.

Once I finally stopped whingeing to myself and got started with the process I apparently also matured a little on the way. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

A Change of Thinking.

All of these shifts in headspace/perception have come from the #draw365 project. What started as a notion during a moment of inspiration on New Year’s Day has very quickly turned into a much bigger beast. And is still growing. I have’t felt this excited about my personal work in… well, ever! I’ve been working with watercolour for over a year but it was very much dabbling up to now.

Three months in and #draw365 is now an inherent part of my day. I feel excited at the thought of coming home and adding another drawing to a rapidly filling sketchbook (and I am terrible for never finishing sketchbooks). At the start the  trickiest part was deciding what to draw. Sitting with a blank page in front of you can sometimes be the most creatively-jarring place to be. But once I had a few subjects to get me started, so the ideas followed, often when I wasn’t even drawing: I found myself being struck during run-of-the-mill admin tasks at work. The Notes app on my phone is now one of my most frequently used. It’s true what they say: the more you create, the more ideas will come.

Take it Easy.

Another product of this project is I’m no longer scared of producing “bad” work. I’m not so hard on myself. I don’t have the fear of getting something “wrong”, so strong was the notion that if it didn’t look the exact same as the image in my head then there would be no point in even trying. How bad is that?! And this wasn’t even because I was putting myself down: it was laziness.

I can’t describe how liberating it is to loosen up and just make marks on a page. It feels so good! I highly recommend you try it, right now.

Making marks #watercolour #paint #makingmarks #green

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The more space I opened up to experimenting and mark (or mistake) making, the more the ideas flowed. The happier I felt. The more willing I was to try new things, which in turn lead to more ideas, more experiments, just… MORE! And it’s been so exciting, and liberating, and why didn’t I do this sooner?!

Sitting on the Sidelines

I don’t think I compared myself to others as such. I didn’t sit and bemoan the fact that I wasn’t any good and others were. I just felt impatient that I wasn’t as good as them yet. Knowing that in order to be up there with Iraville or Ana Victoria it would take months of hard graft, drawing or painting or both, every day. It would mean drawing even when you didn’t feel like it, or painting on an off-day. It would mean putting yourself completely and totally 100% into something. And so the hint of laziness played its part, and I watched from the glow of my phone screen.

Now I look at these artists’ posts and I feel real inspiration. I felt it before but it would be tainted with a sense of “why can’t I do that”. Now that I’m finally getting down to the hard work (I say hard – it’s incredibly fun but you know what I mean) I look at Iraville and go “that’s beautiful, I love the way she shades the faces. That’s something to try.” And in goes another note to the list.

Show Your Work.

I’ve also realised that part of the problem with looking at other artists’ social feeds is that you are often only seeing the final product. Subconsciously you get the impression that these people were always this good: that they picked up a pencil at age 12 and could immediately produce the work they are making now. Not the case I’m sure. What you are really seeing is the result of years of drawing, painting, getting messy, having bad days, developing ideas, experimenting, unearthing a style. But before all this they would have been in the exact same place as I am now: the beginning. And I have to remind myself of that. That everyone, everyone starts somewhere.

Which is why I’m going to start documenting my not-so-good work on here. I want to bare my “bad” work and show my development. Confession: there is a small part of me that hopes another fledgling artist might stumble across my thoughts and feel a small amount of inspiration from seeing my less Instagram-worthy pieces, and realise that no matter how amateur you feel at the start if you put in the work it will get better.

I can draw. I will never again say that I can’t.