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The Artist's Depression

 I m not really active on this forum in the way that i will post my paintings and critique ,mostly cause i dont follow dmp strictly but it did help me learn more about oil painting. I do like to look at other people's works ,WIPs and tips.I live in a place where art isnt much appreciated and i cant really talk with anyone about it, so I decided to share it here and see did anyone been through the same. I often feel depressed about my art,rushing it ,constantly  fixing and changing my painting,sometimes it takes me month or more for small painting ,then I get frustrated that took me so much and doesnt even look good and I end up ripping it and throwing it in the garbage. This morning I woke up early to paint before work,and I again kept looking at the clock how much time do I have ,determined to finish it and ofcourse just broke and ripped it among with half my other old paintings,which I kept as a reminder of my beginings . At that point just felt like they are mocking me and I failed again. It will pass in some time and I will be able to paint again and will be excited doing it but how to stop it from happening,or atleast to control my feelings and grow as an artist. So if anyone ever felt the same or had similar experience I would like to hear it.


  • dencaldencal -
    edited March 14

    Buy 500 sheets of A1 newsprint and some conte hard crayons.
    Join a life drawing group. Draw lots of things and throw them away. Makes good garden mulch.
    Paint simple still life’s as Mark demonstrates. Paint grey scales and color wheels. Use the color checker and proportional dividers.

    A moments reflection on each piece of work —- what is good, what can I improve, what do I need to do to make that improvement?  Ripping everything up is losing a good signpost or roadmap.

    No one takes their first breath as an accomplished artist. Talent is a sign of working hard and long, with a clear vision of both the journey and the destination.

    Remember to enjoy what you are doing and have fun along the way.

  • Hi, @Nicholina_. Welcome to the forum.   :)

    If I felt I had to finish a painting before leaving for work I'd never start one. Allow yourself time to do a small amount well. If it takes you a month to finish a small painting well it doesn't matter. That's better than doing six paintings that will end up in the trash. 
    I encourage you to post your works in progress. The folks here are generally very gentle and want to help.  Even if some of your paintings don't work out that doesn't matter either. The important thing is to learn from them and you'll have a much better chance of learning if you post your works in progress for comment/criticism.

    Rob  :)
  • Hi Nikolina_ - and welcome :) Dennis and Rob said it all but I would like also to add something. Always check your expectations in relation to your abilities of what you want to achieve. Try to be honest with yourself. I do not know your level (amateur-profesional) but if you have great expectations for yourself you will be disappointed sooner or later.

    Masters and professional painters reach the level they are/were through years of hard work. Give yourself time, enjoy painting and give yourself credit. Do your best and keep the paintings you don't like because as you become better and better will show you how much you evolved and will make you happy. Everything has a purpose, even bad paintings :)

    Kind regards,


  • I feel that you need time...well, use Geneva paint :) If you constantly feel that you need to change your paintings then I guess you do proper planning before painting. Make your vision clearer and then do small sketches with poster color or gouache before starting onto the main painting. See what do you feel that you need to change. Then do a final sketch and move to the final painting.

    This happened to me quite a few times, my paintings became totally different from where I started. Now I plan well ahead. Even after planning when I am unsure I let it sit for several days sometimes a month and constantly watch it and then things become clearer.
  • Hi Karolina and welcome to the forum. I have this artist depression from many many years so I understand .Members before me told u already everything, I will just add something. Beautiful art for me came from a "scar" we all have inside. This period will help you and maybe it's also necessary to become a good artist (good not technically or aesthetically but in the sense to be fulfilled by what u will create). So stick with small things if u don't have time or energy to handle a big project. This artist depression will eventually never leave you totally, it's the search for beauty, to express yourself which is demanding your soul. For me is a normal state to feel unsatisfied by everything I make. Feel free to share your work and if u want to talk and "complain" about this disease called creativity we are here :D 
  • edited March 14
    I'm still really new at this form of art, but I can share with you something that has helped me pass the initial days. In the early paintings I chose a simple composition of still life and as Mark Carder said, painted it without any hurry, as much time as it takes, with no deadline in mind. Only goal was to do to the best of my abilities. and so on with the next paintings.. and slowly giving yourself challenging ones. Always and I mean ALWAYS keep your older work to check for improvement with your present work. you might never have guessed, but those works which you though were not up to the mark, will actually bring you much happiness and confidence when you clearly see the improvement that you have made. so keep the proof, even if covered up in a box, one day you will feel like taking them out.  :)
  • this video ( jump to 2.33) makes another interesting point

  • Hi @Nikolina_    I don't know what you consider DMP strictly but I hope you will find yourself open to share (the only time I know of where paintings weren't allowed is if it is abstract art).  I hate to read that you aren't posting because of that reason. The moderators can help to clarify but I don't believe "strict DMP" is mandatory.  I hope you find joy and happiness in your heart.  That is why I paint.  It brings me great joy and escape and I am in a beautiful zen place.  Most of what I produce is probably crap but I love the opportunity and the process.  Here is to you finding some relief from life's worries in your creativity.
    Other people here have given you some wonderful advice.  Take care.
  • Holy Cow @Nikolina_ !!!!!!!!!!!   I just re-familiarized myself with your initial post and those beautiful drawings you posted!  Your work is amazing!  I do hope you continue and post more.  
  • Its a matter of patience.  It can take years to get good at a skill and the learning curve is different for different people (this applies to any skill really).  You have to just keep plugging away and also make sure when you do each piece note what you did well and what you did poorly.  Then try to figure out why for both.  Do this instead of just throwing a piece out because you think it looks bad.  That is really counter productive. I do feel like you sometimes though and I remember being in college making sculptures where I would start a project and completely destroy it when I felt it going nowhere.  I still do stuff like that now. lol
  • It is said that Michelangelo threw his chisel at an incomplete statue and yelled at it, come out! meaning the human figure he was trying to sculpt.

    See even the most brilliant artist geniuses have anguish, depression, and frustration with their art. I think of it as a relationship... I'm not sure with whom, maybe with myself, my critical thinking. The ancient Greeks speak of the muses who inspire us to create artistically. If you must, think of it in that way. Then you can be frustrated and mad at the muse, but objective about your art. 

    My husband insisted that I keep all my paintings, especially my first ones so that I could compare. When I look at the first paintings i did, it is clear that the work is much improved. But I would not know that had I not looked at it.

    What also helped a great deal is that my husband bought me a paint drying 'rack' with at least 24 open shelves so i could place my paintings there while they dry. I found that as soon as I think I am done, or close to it, with a painting, I put it on that shelf where I can no longer see it and I only look maybe one month later. You get a much different perspective when you do that. 

    I have small children and often only get a few minutes here and there to do my art. Some on here suggested I use smaller canvases and that helps a lot.

    You are not alone!!! We all experience this! Do you wake up early to paint? Maybe you should stay up late to paint and wake up at your normal time to get to work. I feel far too stressed in the morning while trying to gather up things and plan my day. Each person is different. I have found though that I often do very well staying up late. I can determine when to stop, rather than having to stop because i must be somehwere.

    This is a wonderul community! Let all of us support you and encourage you and most especially, have the objective eyes you do not have.


  • I have to agree that when you restrict how much time you can spend painting it will add considerably to your dissatisfaction. If you awake early and need something to do, maybe that would be a good time to do preparation work or draw or doodle. One of our members gets up every morning and sketches something/anything from life as a means to enhance her morning wake-up process and improve her drawing skills. According to her this is how she "primes" herself for her day. Personally, I couldn't do anything worthwhile until I've had at least two cups of coffee.

    Thank you all for taking the time to read and share your advices and experiences. I appreciate each and every, they are really helpful.  @dencal @tassieguy @michalis @Kaustav @Bobitaly @anwesha @Julianna @JeffAlen @Renoir @BOB73

    I m more comfortable at drawing and recently started sketching more, but I guess when it comes to the painting I need more discipline and patience. I will choose something simple for my next painting, prepare better and have fun with it. I don't know why I rush and feel such pressure to finish it..I don't have any deadline for it. I will post wips when I start my next one and hopefully it gets me more excited about the outcome and brings me more joy but until then will try to do more sketches in my free time. I m realistic when it comes to my painting skills, it's not that i want to my painting be exact as photograph or object that I m painting or a masterpiece, I just want to paint the image of it that i have in my head. I always visualize how would something look painted before I start, and its just oily and like Mark would say juicy, something in Kaustav style but little more defined. So when it doesnt turn out how I see it in my head, I start hating it but will keep the next ones if i do, hide them somewhere to keep in track my improvement. I also liked that video. It is encouraging and positive. I'm looking forward to follow and see more of all your amazing art and learn from it! :)


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