The number one thing to do? Set yourself some goals! It’s so much easier to stay positive and motivated when you have something to work towards. If you’re a beginner when it comes to coloured pencil drawing, why not set the goal of mastering a new technique? If you’ve already got experience with drawing, why not challenge yourself to draw something completely new? If you’re a coloured pencil artist like me who sells their commissioned work, maybe you could try looking at your social media accounts and marketing efforts. Set yourself the goal of increasing your following by a certain amount, or increasing your engagement rates. If you have room for more commissions in a month, set a goal of filling in those gaps and increasing your workload.
It’s always good to give yourself a challenge; it will give you a chance to feel really proud of yourself when you tick that target off your list. But, remember, goals aren’t set in stone. If you start out with one idea in your head, and later down the line decide that it’s not realistic, there’s no harm in having a rethink and making things easier for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you decide that a goal was out of reach, just take a moment to reflect, reconsider what would be more manageable, then get cracking on that next goal!
Believe me, I know how critical people can be about their own artwork. Plenty of my students create beautiful drawings that they don’t think are good enough, and I do it myself about my own work from time to time. It’s hard to not nit-pick a drawing when you’ve been working on it for hours, especially when you started out with an image in your head that you believe doesn’t quite match up to the final outcome, and it’s a sure-fire way to get yourself down.
My suggestion? Before you’ve given yourself the chance to start criticising your work, make a note of at least three things that you think you’ve done well on that drawing. By focussing on the positives first, it will take your mind away from those bits that you’re not happy with and bring you back to the bits that you love. If you still can’t stop thinking about those negatives, ask yourself the question: how can I improve this? Don’t just put your pencil down and leave defeated, try and make little adjustments to rectify the sections you’re unhappy with. Even if you still don’t think it’s as it should have been, you’ll feel better for having tried, and will be able to learn from any mistakes for future drawings.
I know a lot of people can start to feel really down because of things they’ve seen on social media, whether it’s other people’s artwork that you think is better than yours, other people’s comments on your own drawings, or just the general nonsense that can clog up your newsfeeds. I get it! Social media, while often a great place, can get very negative very quickly, and can start to feel like a bit of a burden.
The best thing to do if you start to feel like that is take a break. I know that seems ridiculous in the modern world we live in, but chances are you won’t actually miss that much and, even if you do miss something, it’ll still be there when you decide to come back. Give yourself a chance to focus on yourself for a while, ignore what everyone else is doing, and re-evaluate what is important to you. After all, likes, comments and shares aren’t the be-all and end-all!
If you’re running a business page on social media and can’t afford to leave your page blank for a couple of weeks, try scheduling content in advance to give yourself the time off. Set automated messages on your messaging services to let people know that you’re temporarily out of action and when they can expect a reply. At the end of the day, we’re all human, and we all need a break some times. Most people will understand that.
I’m very lucky in that I very rarely get bored of drawing, but I understand that not everyone is the same. If you’re starting to lose heart when you pick up that pencil, take a step back for a while. Your artwork is always at its best when you’re most passionate, so drawing when you don’t really feel like it will only make you fall further out of love with your art. If you wake up and decide that you don’t really fancy finishing that drawing today, that’s okay! Give yourself a break and a chance to do something different. Chances are, a change of scenery and something new will give you the motivation to get back to your drawing board and loving coloured pencils again.
If you’re like me, and you’re running a business which means taking a break from drawing isn’t an option, try changing your routine. I find a walk with the dogs on a morning is a great way to start the day and helps motivate me for whatever work I'll be doing. If you don’t venture out already, head out for a walk. Nature can be very restorative, and a walk can help you clear your mind and get you back in the mood for work. Alternatively, even making small changes like working in a different room or listening to music while you draw can be helpful.
If you find you’re really struggling to stay positive, don’t suffer in silence. There are hundreds of really amazing artists out there you can connect with. Just talking to someone who has been through what you’ve been through, felt what you’re feeling, can make a big difference. Knowing you’re not alone is so important, so don’t hesitate to reach out to people and ask for help if you need it. Sometimes, all you need is the support of others to lift your spirits and get a smile back on your face.
If you’re a member of my Patreon page, you can join my Patreon Facebook Group. It’s an incredible place with a really amazing group of people who are all so supportive and ready to help. If you’re not a member of my Patreon, there are hundreds of other Facebook Groups like my own that you can join and become a part of a community of likeminded people.