I'm not really sure how to go about this ... neither am I sure if everyone else went through it. I'll try to explain to the best of my ability (and English abilities) how I feel about Failure and what I've experienced so far in an attempt to maybe find an answer that will change my way of thinking forever. I'm aware that it will probably never happen but it's always worth a try ... I thought.

We all know that failure is required in order to learn from it and improve ... but what happens when you don't learn from it ? You're bound to repeat the same mistake over and over again ... right ? This is my biggest fear that is consuming me over and over and over ... The concept of repeating a mistake like that until it turns out right instead of finding the answer as to why you're failing after the first 2 or 3 attempts is sort of impossible to perceive for my mind. No matter how hard I try I just can't ... it feels illogical and I get even more mentally tired for trying to attempt it.

Everyone says just do it, just draw more etc. but hell if it is that simple for my mind to follow something like that. When I hear something like this .... my next thought is "So you're telling me that because I can't fix or find an answer on how to fix my mistake or even find the mistake itself (the classical "IT FEELS WRONG but I don't know why or what exactly is causing it" feeling) ... I should repeat it until it turns out right??"

I try to overcome this fear .. to forget about it ... but really ... how can I when nothing much is changing ? How can I when the whole purpose of becoming better is defeated the instant I encounter a problem that I can't/don't know how to fix.

And because I can't forget about it ... my mind tries to forget about it for me and the whole stressing part of course by trying to make anything else more appealing ... take an additional shower , cook something though I already have food , play a game even tho I'm not feeling like it at all... etc. hoping that when I return from any other activity like that a magical answer will appear in my head ... or maybe just waiting for the day to end so I can put an end to all the worries and stress through sleep ... pretty much similar to how people feel when they die, I imagine.

I just started crying while writing this probably as another natural response to the overwhelming negative feelings. I have to say it's probably been quite a few years since something like this has happened ... at least it gave me a slight relief. I'm tired .. of thinking ... of myself ... I don't know.

I'm not sure if everyone else experiences this ... regardless I want to know ... how ... how are you able to just find the exact answers to every problem you encounter and then just practice it ?

Sometimes I wonder if maybe all the other people have superior processing abilities , maybe they're thinking on a whole other level then me by default ... or maybe I'm just too stupid for this. Maybe that's why I can't find answers.

Do/did you guys ever feel like this ? If so .. what did you do ?

(I can give examples of such failures if needed.)

Sorry if it didn't make much sense ...

To be honest, "just keep drawing, do it again and again until you get it right" is terrible advice. If it was really as easy that, everyone could be amazing at basically anything they try to. In my experience the people who stagnate the most and don't improve at the rate they want to all have the same thing in common: they do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. The kinds of people who: will always use the same brush/medium; will always use the same workflow; who find something that gave good results one time and then think that is the only/best way to work; will hear an artist they look up to say their way is the best/most efficient/etc and then stick to that forever even if they fucking hate it; will always do exactly the same exercises over and over again and never try anything new because they're scared; will always use the same style and use that as an excuse; and so on and so on.

Not to say there's no value in doing some of those things, but if you've been doing any of those and you're not improving? Try new things. Don't keep doing the same stuff over and over again if it's not working. A mistake is a failed experiment that's been going on for too long. A failed experiment that you stopped when you realized it wasn't working is good data and good experience for future projects. You need to push boundaries and always try different approaches. Your problem seems to be you've been told to think about problems very linearly, and that solutions will arise if you keep following the same path the whole time. You need to think about problems in 3d with multiple ways to solve them, multiple solutions to the same problem. Maybe the first direction you've taken leads nowhere, maybe there's an obstacle significantly slowing down your path, maybe there's a way to circumvent all those problems. Think laterally!

My favorite quote these days is from Nietzche, goes something like this: "Many are obstinate about the journey, but not about the destination." if you want to be an artist for real, don't give up on that. Be obstinate about THAT, not about the way you get there.

I looked through your sketchbook and you seem to be doing good. From what I understand you've been drawing for a little over a year, and you're doing fine man. You're doing a LOT better than I did in the first TWO years of my drawing journey. If you're looking at the people that made it in 2~ years and using that as a baseline, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Not everyone can get there in the same time, not everyone can learn at the same rate, not everyone has access to the same resources and the same amount of work ethic and energy. Learn about your own physical and social boundaries and work within those as best you can instead of looking at how someone else got there and trying to be them (hint, you are YOU, you are not them).

I think you really need to push boundaries and expand your horizons a lot though. I'm seeing a lot of figures/characters drawn on white backgrounds, and not much else. Experiment, experiment, experiment. All the time, even if you're amazing at one thing, just keep trying new things. When you feel like you can look back at your sketchbook and say, man what the hell was I thinking, that was garbage, then you can focus on mastering one thing. But even then, you will still stagnate if you don't try new things. What about 3d, clay, starting with paint instead of line, starting with a photograph that you reassamble and paint over, starting with big chunky brush strokes instead of thin and delicate lines? There's so many ways to work man, don't limit yourself to just one

I think everyone can achieve a certain degree of skill in any task, not saying you're going to be the next craig mullins or anything but you can certainly become a professional if you keep working and more importantly keep pushing boundaries.

Hope something in there helps, if it wasn't clear or you have more questions feel free to ask

Look through the stuff you did when you started out, it is worse than the stuff you have now, you have improved through the failures and succeses.
When I get stuck and cant figure out what is wrong in a piece, I leave it as it is.
I move on and look at the masters, good examples are Jaime Jones, Craig Mullins, Rembrandt etc
Analyse these masters, study their methods, what colors they use.
Also if look at videos of good artists working, they can sometimes help a lot.
Even when working on personal pieces, gather up some paintings from the masters that you like. I remember having drawn in an acceptable lineart, but when I got to painting my skin tones were all dull and some colors were wrong. I got a reference from one of Freuds paintings, I was able to push my painting to a new level thanks to it.

Do 10 digital still lives, spend 4+ hours on each, get a good lighting setup and juicy red apples!

Like patrick said, experiment. Recently my brushes got reset and I started using a new set of brushes I was somewhat uncomfortable at first, but as time went on It actually helped me improve.

Look at life and yourself in a positive light, self loathing can lead to depression which can seriously hamper your productivity. Sometimes its best just to be grateful to the small things, you got a place to live, food and water.

Perhaps videos in this channel may be of some use, theres some Marco Djurdjevic and Craig Mullins´ videos there too

Im by no means a good advice giver, but you are my friend and I want to help you.

The main message I received, when I read your post, wasn't really about failure at all I think but it was about fear. I'm sure all self teachers experience this, having experienced it myself and seeing the traits in pretty much everyone I have come into contact with; some exhibit this fear to horrendous degrees. You can sense it in the words and posts in CD particularly because it is so heavily improvement driven which is both a boon and a curse. More probably quit than make it because it is a long road and they haven't learned how to deal with overcoming their own fear.

Just for some context for you, I recently went freelance fulltime 4 weeks ago and started getting more contracts on the day I left my day job than I ever imagined. My folio at this time was unchanged from a year ago. At that time I used to think I wasn't good enough and I had this crazy obsessive overblown view of ART and what it meant to my life after living and breathing and eating it for 2 years solo like some sort of unhealthy ghoul.

I took a break from any art at all for 8 months to get my head straight with it again. Painted only a few things over the next 4 months. Then while on holiday, randomly on a ferry in Vietnam, I was mulling on how much more alive I felt when on holiday for two weeks rather than at work (day job) for years, and had this huge flash realisation of how I had chosen it all for myself! I had let fear completely run everything I did and infected the attitudes I had, especially when it came to the things I really wanted badly for my life. This made me stick to the security of the job, and not launch into freelance. It had tainted my view of the things I worked on when I was doing the whole skills improvement thing, the way I worked, what I worked on, how I felt about that work. I could basically see it in everything.

Within a few hours of this realisation I had a totally different attitude and after a couple of weeks When I got back to work, I quit after 3 hours back, on a whim (wasn't planning it), didn't look for a new day job for my last 4 weeks, still have a large mortgage to maintain, had no income coming in. I really felt the fear and yeah it even stressed me out in insidious ways like developing a rash, not eating, waking up at 2.20am every morning and so on. Because I was so much more aware of my own fear, I would always think back to my realisation moment on that ferry and what that felt like and I stubbornly decided that whatever comes my way will be right, and at least I am actually living and engaging fully with my life, rather than hiding in the security of my fear cave. The day before I left, I landed a movie gig. The next day I got an awesome illustration gig. I got 5 contracts in 6 days. Crazy in-the-zone shit I can still barely believe.
I'm not saying this to make myself feel awesome, I just want to show how I actually held myself back for at least a year, maybe longer, because I let this fear of not being good enough to get freelance work to cover my bills run my entire attitude. Crazy, but true. All I changed was myself. Nothing external.

Now mine wasn't a fear like yours about whether I was improving. I always knew I had the potential so it was just a matter of working towards it. I did live intensely unhealthily as a result of a fear of having to make up time because I started the journey way older than most. My fear really kicked in heavily when it came to showing people my work and backing myself. We all have different ones, but have to be able to start recognizing them for what they are.

Let's take a couple of examples in what you wrote, just to analyse them a bit.

Quote:"I try to overcome this fear .. to forget about it ... how can I when nothing much is changing ? How can I when the whole purpose of becoming better is defeated the instant I encounter a problem that I can't/don't know how to fix."

Your fear is actually talking right through you in this sentence, and its hold on you is exhibited in the very words you used.
Think for a moment: How can it possibly be that the whole purpose of becoming better is "defeated the instant I encounter a problem"?

Really? You have been given the power of absolute foresight to make this kind of absolute statement? No your irrational fear is actually talking here. Fear loves itself. It feeds on itself. It is feeding voraciously in this statement and you are letting it.

Actually the reality is that you are getting better, you probably just don't want to see it, or maybe it is in such small increments that you are not able to recognize it. The more you work the more you will get better. This is practically indisputable. Of course there are efficiencies about how to make this process quicker etc, but these are kinda pointless and get way too much attention in self improvement forums like CD. It isn't what you do and how often or for how long, but the attitude you have that makes the most difference in my opinion.

Many people seem to harbour this pretty crazy obsessive trait of technical self improvement without putting as much effort into the internal self improvement. They focus on the things they need to DO, study schedules, sleep schedules, topics to study, how many, how often, how long, etc etc.
Nothing on how to deal with fear, how to have patience with yourself, how to listen to and love oneself and really enjoy the art or anything you do for its own sake rather than some future goal. There is no gumroad tutorial on this.

Another example.

Quote:"And because I can't forget about it ... my mind tries to forget about it for me and the whole stressing part of course by trying to make anything else more appealing ..."

The answer does not lie in just running through those fear thoughts constantly, nor distracting yourself from them with some external activity. At least not in the way you think.
We all tend to retreat into our thoughts and give them more attention when we are faced with some internally motivated fear driven dilemma. Since fear stems from our thoughts especially when it comes to art, this seems to be a reasonable thing to do, but actually without the right awareness about those thoughts, what most of us tend to do is retreat to the cave where the fearwitch inside your own brain is weaving spells of false comfort and security to keep you bound there in your rut. A sure sign you are spinning around in the same place is that when you spend a lot of time inwards with your fear thoughts and come back with the same answer every time. You're being bound in your fear cave.

Fear really impacts on the decisions you make and turns you into a cowering thing that doesn't engage with life with full enthusiasm and vitality, instead preoccupied with a false feeling of security and safety above all else. The trick is how to recognize those fear thoughts when they come up and then not "hope" them away with hand waving or something external but also to not just give them full reign.
Don't try and dispell them or treat them like the don't exist, but face them full on and try and get to the root cause of the fear. Eventually you will realise that any fear you have about art or anything else literally exists only in your mind and thoughts and isn't something real at all.
If you start to change how you react to these fear thoughts with a determined effort, you will change the very nature of those thoughts and the fears you feel. The more you think about your fears in a cowed way and let the fearwitch weave them as traction in your mind, the more they will rule what you do.
Don't retreat to your fear cave. Stand out there with your sword and yell "once more unto the breech again, dear friends" and carve your own path right through that annoying fearwitch and her ghoulish army of fearthoughts, and don't retreat back to the cave once the battle is done, but onwards to unknown adventures, and likely to fight other denizens of fear that might exist out there unmet yet.

This isn't particularly special a problem to you either so don't feel alone or make it into some bigger thing in your mind than it is. The primitive driver and mechanism for fear is still in our brains to keep us from jaunting into a bear's den with a furry loin cloth made out of one of its siblings with only a stick to defend ourselves, so we all do this. The chance of this happenning these days is very low and the mechanism is instead being utilised in situations where it is way less useful, like doing art. There is no reason for fear to play a part in this so you need to go against your own programmed responses and reprogram through awareness.

Sorry for the long book. I really think it is important to get a really good handle on the nature of your own fear in order to work through it. Fear is such a keen driver of most of our thoughts that lead us to negative places, I really believe you must have your own realisation of this, rather than me telling you, for it to improve. However for you it seems that keeping in mind a few things when the fearwitch is at work might help:

1. Realise that if you work, you will improve. Guaranteed. Any other quantification like how fast, how much time, what to do, comparing with others is letting the fearwitch do her thing.

2. Have a really close inward and honest look at why you want to do art so badly? What is actually the nature of this desire that it causes so much anguish? Why should it if it is something you love? Only fear can transform love into anguish like this. A lot of dysfunction can happen in this desire that we all seem to just take for granted.

3. Be very wary of any thoughts of "making it" as a pro which are a great source of fear driven thoughts. DO NOT entertain these kinds of thoughts if they are negatively skewed. Fear of the future is a truly ridiculous undertaking. You are manufacturing your own fear out of your own thoughts based on a thing that hasn't happened and will never happen in the way you imagine?
Wow, we all do it, but once you realise it for yourself you stop that shit immediately, trust me.
Sure do positive things to help you get to your goals but don't let the desire for the goal override everything else because the more badly you want something the more the potential for it to kickstart fear in you. Have a goal, but be prepared to let it go, or get there in whatever time it takes to happen.

4. Do what you need to recenter yourself. This may be taking an indefinite break to do something else, or just go back to the basics of why you started to love the process of art in the first instance. Screw the whole skills improvement bullshit, just do what you enjoy for a while for the sake of it.

5. Really look at your own fear responses to everything, and not just art. Learn to identify when something comes from the fearwitch and to accept it for what it is, but then gather your sword and not to be bound in the cave by it. I highly recommend meditation to be really useful to help with improving self awareness, perhaps give that a go.

6. Added this after looking at your sketchbook. Man. Ok so it's worse than I imagined. You actually are improving heaps and have absolutely NO justification for your negative attitude. Every post you make is tainted with this "IDK what I'm doing, I suck" attitude. Examples:
"Thanks man ... but as long as it's with ref I just feel sorta "meh" about everything."
"Some faces/heads I've tried today. My god I'm so crapp at this."
"Thanks but idk .. I don't think I'm doing too well D:"
"Thanks :) but my progress is so small/slow. "

Well guess what, you are just reinforcing it in yourself everytime you have these thoughts or say it out loud or in posts. Stop doing that.
Change the name of your sketchbook to something other than "Devotionless attempts". Accept compliments when they come your way from others without saying "thanks but I know I really do suck."

If you want to know what fear drives this behaviour it's simple because I've perpetrated it myself in the past. You fear that if you aren't harder on yourself than others, that you won't achieve what you set out to do. So it really is a fear of failure to make it, once again. You have taken it to the point where it has become a mantra and has taken over your entire attitude to your work. You are probably a perfectionist too right? It takes one to know one, and it was nothing but bad for my attitude to art. Do you get what I'm saying?
Sorry to be harsh, but you really need to see through this ridiculous aspect of yourself in order to start to change it. I did it.

Hope that helps.

 YouTube free learnin! | DeviantArt | Old Folio | Insta
I get this sorta fear alot as well, I think most artists do to some extent, art is such a slow gradual process that it's really hard to see if your efforts and methods are actually getting you anywhere alot of the time, i've found myself stressing over that and the amount of time I put into art alot, especially since I feel I should be better then I am atm considerin all the time I put into drawing.

I remember someone saying a while back(not sure if it was on this site or elsewhere) that art just becomes easier once you stop trying to force it and just go with the flow or somethin along those lines, i've been trying to do that more recently, as I think I may have gotten wrapped up in the whole obsession with improvement.

At the same time as well though I really am not for the just draw mindset, mileage like that is defineitly a big part of art but if you're not thinkin about how to fix problems then you're just headbutting a wall until it breaks rather then climbing over it, but I think overthinking it could be just as bad of a problem so it's really a balance.

Also Amit, that was a really insightful post man, i'll try to take your advice :).

Thanks guys , I really appreciate that you took the time to reply :)

It is indeed fear of failure as you've said Amit .. and it is indeed a ridiculous aspect of myself hence why I've said "maybe find an answer that will change my way of thinking forever". What I want the most is to stop this constant internal fear struggle and just be happy with my own pace and actually be able to gradually improve it. Right now I'm stagnating due to these fears. When faced with so many root sources of fear it really does affect everything I do to a point where it becomes illogical to do anything.

I've tried to track down the roots and note them down ... maybe having them like that will help me (or somebody else) fight them and maybe think of them as unjustified ... again ... that's really hard to do.

~ fear of not actively learning.

~ fear of not being able to identify the problem and not what I vaguely think it is the problem.

~ fear of not being able to find fitting solutions. (example: I can't possibly draw a hand without using constructional methods ... the moment I encounter a hand in a side-view with fingers spread for example .. it becomes unnaproachable. The expressiveness is nowhere near even if somehow I do manage to do it. fear explodes.)

~ fear of not being able to work harder on the "boring stuff". (which is probably caused or strongly related to the ones above)

~ fear of not being able to succeed without having a very set tight/specific goal in mind for my future as an artist like everyone else has. (example: concept designer / illustration / furryporn .. lol ... whatever one's goal is)

~ fear of not having something I really like to draw anymore (probably caused by tiredness of things not coming out right) thus not having anything to go back to in order to relax. I think this is more of a thing for people that actually have a bigger background of drawing in their childhood and actually have something they can draw and do it perfectly to their liking .. I suppose. Maybe I should try finding this certain something that I could do perfectly to my liking. By perfectly I of course don't actually mean that it should be perfect ... jsut good enough for oneself to enjoy.

~ fear of not being able to succeed because I can't follow a tight schedule like most people do. (since one of the above fears will ruin it inevitably)

~ fear of not knowing what to do next.

~ fear of not understading how other people approach and understand everything. (example : Ken Hultgren's book about animal drawing. Everyone seems to be ok with it. I find it 70% unnaproachable. This is one of the reasons that made my fears completely explode this time I think)

~ fear of not being able to have fun with the process anymore.

This was all I could think of so far.

A fear of not becoming a professional or something like that in 2 years isn't really much of a fear for me since it wasn't really something I've set our for myself. It's more of an external pressure however I'm fairly confident that I could make a living by doing quite little compared to a lot of other people due to currency exchange rates and my country simply being poorer.

My goal is ultimately to become better at drawing as efficiently and fast as I can ... to be in a position where I no longer have to struggle as hard as I do now. I'm aware that there'll always be struggle but I'm certain there is far far less "struggle power" when the foundations are strong.

Because both things mentioned above have the "Faster" element in them it may seem as if hitting professional is a cause of fear. What I really want is to lessen the struggle asap.

I think Alex Negrea is right about this and it's probably the thing I need to achieve the most right now. "Once you stop being afraid of failing and embrace it, you start to see the world with different eyes." It just seems so damn hard to achieve tho.

Hope it helps Trigger!

Adrian I don't know if this will help you, because you really have to find your own realisation and way forward. Writing a list is all good, but it takes more awareness on a continuous level to really start to see how they manifest in your mind. The way I have come to see my own fears and what actually counteracts it is the following.

Fear generally does one of two things to me, it either pushes me into doing nothing different at all. I am stuck in the status quo, the evil I know is better than the evil I don't etc. It results in inaction. The other more extreme thing, is that it actually forces me to act in ways totally counter to what my deep goals may be; but I believe that inaction in following your own true instinct is actually the main thing that fear is doing to you.

Also fear in art tends to be future focused, have a look at your list...they mostly are about the future. It's natural. We either embrace or fear the unknown, and the future is most definitely unknown. It is a fantasy actually. Seemingly a dark fantasy for self teaching artists :)

So what I found that helped me is two things. First you have to become hyperaware of the fear in you, down to individual thoughts that say things like "What about the mortgage, you're going to lose the house" , or "You won't learn anything, and will grind for years to no improvement". That kind of thing.
Then every time those thoughts come, you listen to them but then you counter them with some action that goes completely against it.

So whenever my fear of not getting contracts hit me, all I did was apply to more companies. I was applying every night for 3 weeks straight with no replies or only rejects. The more scared I got, the more I amped up my positive counter-action. I didn't spend days thinking about doing it. I literally found a few companies, opened up my email, said the minimum needed and fired them off without a second thought. I also promptly forgot about them. Dwelling in the past is also a source of anxiety and one I really don't rate either.
When I started getting emails back with contract offers, I was almost surprised because I had forgotten I even sent them.

I believe this is the key to conquering your fear. Positive Action.

Not pretending it isn't there, or somehow being a fearless being, it is acting in the positive everytime it rears it's head, rather than just sit there and listen.

You need to be quite self aware to catch every fear hiding in there (not all are voiced through thoughts) which is why I recommended meditation. It helps you listen to and understand yourself better.

Another thing that struck me are the words you use about "lessening your struggle ASAP" and is very telling. You can't expect quick fix solutions to everything according to your own timeframes. Things ripen in their own time. Yes you can be more aware of what might help or is hindering, but you also have to give up this notion of absolute control that you have.
As a perfectionist this can be hard to do, but it is essential you look at it. Perhaps one of the things you need to become more aware of also is this strong streak of perfectionism and desire for control within yourself. It seems to be where much of your fears stem from as well and explain why you are getting so stressed.

You cannot control anything no matter how much you think you can. Things work best when we accept the flow of things rather than try and control everything. I don't mean waft around in an airy fairy way, you can still have goals and take actions, but you can have them in the full knowledge that things may not go your way the way you expect. And when they don't, well so what? You change your actions and see what results. There are no HUGE consequences to every action that we seem to believe and overthink on.

Pretty much what Tigger said about going with the flow, except you have to learn to open the gates of the flow. I think you need to give up this idea that you are in control of anything, because this is actually not the case. Only then will you be able to find the natural flow in things.

And some quotes from the Tao Te Ching which is an amazing little collection of wisdom:

"By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning."

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.”

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts and keeps his mind open to what is."

"If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”

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I started going through what you're going through during undergrad. It feels like I just keep not making the right/smart choice or learning from what didn't work about life over and over, over nearly a decade. I'd cry in private sometimes just thinking, sometimes when writing things down in journals, sometimes after another failure at certain things. I don't know your situation well, but if you can find a safe place, a private place, a "secret" place for yourself that is away from your normal daily area of activity/people, it can take a lot of that negativity away, and let you think clearer. It could be a quiet area of a park, a busy cafe full of strangers, etc. But make sure you actually get your ass out to that place from time to time, or it'll all be for naught. Also, keeping a private, physical journal to write things out helps tremendously as well. You can always dispose of the journal if you want. Who knows? It might feel good to see all those negative thoughts burn! Just make sure you don't end up jailed for arson 'cos your flaming journal got caught in the wind and landed in someone else's window.

If you want to chat in hangout or skype, lemme know.


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