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Tuesday, April 13, 2010


"Peruvian Treasure" original oil 6x6"

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I've been thinking lately about something I once learned that changed my outlook on this game of becoming a better painter. I'm sure I will find many like-minded souls when I say that sometimes it feels like I just keep on painting with no great sense of improvement in my work. It can be very discouraging at times, but a few years ago I read something that cleared a lot of this crazy thinking up. The REASON it sometimes feels I am making no forward progress isn't that I'm not - it's how I'm thinking about it.

If you are like me, you are always looking ahead, at the kind of painter you want to be, and no matter how good you get, you will always want to get better. When I look back however, even just a couple of years,  the picture is very different. Looking this way, it is so clear that I am always making progress. Instead of comparing my work to where I want to get to with it, especially on down days, I try to compare it to where I have come from, which never fails to encourage me and inspire me to tackle the next challenge. Whether I win a particular round or not - in the end it's all progress forward.

Just like walking down a long (lifetime long) road, one never gets to the horizon, because it just keeps unfolding ahead of you, not a fixed point to arrive at, but instead a lofty goal to keep aiming for.


  1. Very interesting painting. Like the vibrant background against the more muted colors in the doll.
    I envy and APPRECIATE the way you can articulate your thoughts. This blog really spoke to the way I have been feeling lately. Enjoy the moment we are in and be thankful that with practice we can get closer to where we want to be.

  2. So true Carol, enjoy the moment! I know some painters (good ones) who are unhappy with almost every painting they paint. That’s a lot of unhappiness. I believe it’s important to find the balance between dissatisfaction as a motivational tool, and just plain dissatisfaction. If we don’t allow ourselves to find some joy in what we are producing, then why on earth are we doing it?

  3. I agree that we need to appreciate the progress that we are making. I think that when we compare ourselves with others that we admire we can become dissatisfied. I tend to be my own harshest critic, which I think is a good thing. However if it leads to depression and negative thinking it is not so good. As Robert Genn says try to stay in the joy mode. For me I try to stay focused on my own journey and trust that I am growing every day.

  4. Very good words to remember, on the quest to being a better painter.

  5. "Success is a direction, not a destination". Someone wise (although I don't know who) said that. It's a good thing to keep in mind on this journey. Thanks for sharing yours, Liz.

  6. A funny thing always happens when I visit your blog...I initially come to get a closer look at your always great work and end up staying to read the words of wisdom that seem to read my mind. It is so hard to see progress but I like to think that doing the work is progress in itself. Forward motion always leads somewhere. I post everything, good or bad, in order to see if I'm moving ahead. For some reason I see it clearer in the monitor. It is so hard to be objective. Sometimes the only way to see ahead is to look behind. Couldn't help noticing that the doll (painted masterfully, by the way)seems to be contemplating the subject. :)

  7. I always like your posts, Liz. So much wisdom from such a young person. Whatever path we choose - it is the journey, not the destination. As you said the horizon is always ahead of us, so let's enjoy the walk!

    Your Peruvian doll is a great little painting. I like the colors you chose and the shadows, especially in the skirt. Well done!