Frustration Isn't Always a Bad Thing

15 Oct 2012

"Frustration isn't always such a bad thing. It's a sign that you're trying something new, different, or outside your level of familiarity, and in working your way through it (and you will) you conquer this challenge and move on to the next one." -- Start Your Week with Steve, a free enewsletter from artist Steve Henderson

Life is not always a cup of tea, but a break to enjoy that "cup of tea" enables us to endure, and conquer, our frustration. Tea by the Sea, an original oil painting, signed limited edition print, and note card by Steve Henderson.

Life is not always a cup of tea, but a break to enjoy that "cup of tea"
enables us to endure, and conquer, our frustration. Tea by the Sea,
an original oil painting, signed limited edition print,
and note card by Steve Henderson

One of the most satisfying things I do is teaching another person how to knit. And every time I do so, I conclude the lesson with this encouragement: "You've just learned. While knitting is fairly simple consisting of basically two stitches, until you practice and do it over and over and over, you will not get good.

"And in the process of practicing, and learning how to be good, you will find that you forget some things, or that your knitting looks uneven, or that you drop stitches and you don't know how to get back. And you will get frustrated.

Not only is this normal, but this is good, and if you're not getting frustrated, then you're probably not pushing yourself beyond your existing skill. You are not stupid. You are not unusual. You are not weird. You are normal. You are above normal when you accept the challenge, fight it, and win. Now, go and knit."

This same advice applies in anything you do, including and especially including creating a fine art painting or sculpture. You won't get better if you don't practice those oil painting techniques and push yourself with new painting instruction; and if you do it a lot and push yourself outside your existing painting skills, you can expect to get frustrated because you are getting somewhere.

So, go get frustrated.

--Carolyn

 


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Comments

KatPaints wrote
on 16 Oct 2012 7:12 PM

Thank you Carolyn, minister of art wisdom.

I recently attended a plein air event in which I did a highly focused, boring, technical painting over a three hour quick draw. Half way during the event, two guys plopped their easels near me and had a blast painting away. One guy partied drinking beer afterwards maybe the other guy did too. I, being seriously dehydrated and sore, drank a quart or so of water.

One guy won an award and was purchased; his painting blew mine out of the water. The other guy did not win the event, but won best of show for the entire event.

It was a bit frustrating creating something I would personally never purchase nor did I like the painting despite the many complements. OK, I'm technically skilled - so what?! The work is creatively challenged and simply an accurate depiction of the subject matter.The work said nothing creatively nor aesthetically. I am very grateful for those two guys plopping their easels down and creating masterworks in half the time. They showed me that there is a better way to approach my art and I will certain explore a new avenue from this point forward.

KatPaints wrote
on 16 Oct 2012 7:21 PM

I mean his artwork was purchased; no people were sold at this event. Clearly, I'm still dehydrated and not thinking clearly. :D

on 22 Oct 2012 1:26 PM

I believe it is good to practice a tough self criticism, seeing what others do can be an inspiration and a source of energy to improve our work.

Anyway we need to find a balance to enjoy what we do and look for more challenges.  That balance is not easy at all, being "frustrated" constantly is true will push ourselves to improve but definitely will prevent from enjoying what we do.

How do you find the balance? I personally cannot, I throw to the bin the paintings I do not feel happy about even when others like, and push too much myself...  I recognize this is not good the way I do :-)