Well, a while before I wrote the first draft of this article, I started to worry that my art was getting worse. This has mostly been because some of my recent and upcoming art has been somewhat uninspired and/or undetailed, like in this painting that will be posted here in a few days’ time.
Not only hadn’t I been feeling the same drive and enthusiasm as I often do when I make art, but my art was decidedly less detailed than some of the art I posted here last year, like this painting:
So, what should you do if you are worrying that your art is getting worse?
1) Remember, you aren’t getting worse: Generally speaking, if you’ve made good art in the past, then you’re still capable of making art like this. You still have all of the skills that you had back then and you’ve also probably had more practice too. So, it’s very unlikely that your art skills are actually getting worse.
No, it’s probably due to something else. For example, I’d been been busy with other stuff at the time that I made some of these lower-quality paintings, so the amount of painting time I had was one reason for the quality drop. Likewise, I hadn’t found anything that really inspired me in the way that had happened with some of my past paintings. Plus, I’d sometimes ended up making paintings when I was tired (which resulted in lower quality art).
I could go on, but usually the reasons why you might feel that your art is getting worse are often time-based reasons, emotional reasons and/or practical reasons. You almost certainly still have the same skills that you used to, but there’s probably some obstacle that prevents you from putting them into practice in the way that you used to.
Sometimes, trying to work around the causes of these problems can sometimes help you to produce better art. For example, a few hours after I wrote the first draft of this article, I ended up preparing another painting and – thanks to being more awake, finding an inspiration (eg: mid-2000s nostalgia, mixed with the cyberpunk genre) and finding more time to paint – it ended up being somewhat more detailed.
2) Look at your really old art: Although it can be easy to compare your current art to art that you’ve made relatively recently and feel that your art is getting worse, it is extremely likely that your art is still improving in the grand scheme of things.
If you don’t believe me, then look at a “good” piece of art that you made three years ago or earlier. Compare it to one of your current “mediocre” pieces. There’s a very good chance that even today’s lacklustre art will still look at least marginally better than the distant past’s “good” art. For example, here’s a “good” painting of mine from 2014:
This old painting still looks reasonably ok, but on a purely technical and stylistic level, it isn’t really as well-developed as even the more mediocre art that I make these days.
If you’ve been making art for less than three years, then don’t worry. You’re still new to it and you’re still learning the basics. Having times when you feel less inspired, or times where you fail and make mistakes is all part of both being an artist and learning to be an artist. So, don’t worry about it and keep practicing regularly.
3) Do something “easy”: One of the best ways to restore your artistic confidence if you’re worried about the quality of your art is simply to make a piece of art that requires very little in the way of creative inspiration, which can be made relatively easily and which will automatically look better than your “ordinary” art.
Although this type of art varies from artist to artist, I usually find that art based on pre-existing things is very useful for this. If you know how to copy from sight, then making still life paintings or even studies of historical paintings ( just make sure that they’re out of copyright, and that you acknowledge the original artist) can be a great way to produce good-looking art when I’m going through an uninspired or mediocre phase.
For example, during an uninspired phase a few months ago, I was still able to produce some good-looking art by – for example – making a slightly altered study of this 19th century painting by Gustave Courbet:
So, making an “easy” type of art – whether it’s still life paintings, fan art, landscape painting, studies of old paintings etc… can be a good way to reassure yourself if you’re starting to worry that your art is getting worse.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂