How to deal with art regression. Leveling up your art skills. One step in becoming a better artist.

So this will be my first “real” blog entry in this new blog. The blog will be as much for me as for anyone that is interested about art. It will be high and low. Very art focused at times and a little about stuff around art, like family, time, inspiration and so on. I am not a pro or a master but I believe that every little insight should be shared for the collective good.


So here we go! 

Have you ever had a jump in progress? You go to bed one day and are at lvl2 and wake up at lvl3?


Have you also had the experience with ending up in some sort of regression shortly after?


I have :) . It seems like ever time I “get it” I also end up doing the worst artwork in history of mankind a few weeks later. Like nothing works any more. Like I have forgotten how to draw or paint. Like I lost my mojo.


Maybe you have too? It is so frustrating and devastating. At the low point you just feel to stop working, put all art supplies in a burning box and send it all out in space...firing rockets after it, and detonating a nuclear bomb onboard as the box is passing the event horizon of a black hole.


I had this frustration happen to me just a couple of days ago. I had just finished a painting I felt was one of the best pieces of art I had ever done. It went quick, it was exact, both with great quality and speed. And I learned a new thing. Next painting nothing worked, whatever I did it just became worse.


But I saved it. How? In the moment when this happens I at least start almost to panic. Add a new color here, more contrast here and so on. All in rapid succession without much thought. It sound obviously but that is exactly the problem.


To much speed, no focus, no thought. The way I saved it was to take a step back calm down and try to be objective about what is in front of me. Unpacking all that I know to address the current issues.


Basically divide everything in steps. So when I finally started my next painting I just told myself that this painting can take 1 hour or 1 week, and that is okay. What is the first step? What should I paint, what is the subject matter, what is the perspective, where is the light coming from so on and so on. This all before I made a single line on the paper. Basic stuff right? This is kindergarten levels right here.


Once the basic sketch was done, I did the same thing with picking colors and values, slowly considering what and where.


As I said, this sounds so basic, so obvious that I almost questioned the status of my mental health once I realize that this was the issue. This is the stuff I need to remind my self of most of the time!?! To be here and now? To focus on stuff I really love doing? Come on!


In a world of social media, uploads and daily updates it is easy to lose track of what is important. Is it more important to update your instagram everyday to any cost or to make sure every update is of the best quality you can muster? Preferably we want to do both. Consistently adding content to our platforms and with godly quality. But life and you don’t work like that. Well maybe you work like that, but I don’t. And sometimes we end up with that autopilot and we just don’t consider the speed or quality. We are just done and now it is uploaded. 

I believe in being consistent in my work. To paint every day, to never stop, always pushing forward. But the speed have to be adjusted depending on the road. Sometimes you need to slow down, take a step back and just focus on what is right there, that small little step that will lead to the next. You know, where will that damn horizon line be at.

Isn’t this true for all things in life? Sometimes days goes by so quick you forget how old you are or who that old guy is in the bathroom mirror. We go from one place to another, picking up kids, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, prep for work, meetings, make love, watching movies, talking to friends...all on autopilot or at least as some sort of passenger. I don’t necessarily think that this is all bad. We kind of need the steady routines the constant, everyday flow. If I would super focus on every little thing, on everything I do, on an everyday basis, I would go mad. I mean it, like truly mad. Some stuff you just want to get through with without making it the most important thing in the the days my daughter wake up on the worst side ever. You know when the little diva behaves more like a dictator then a member of the family. Those days...those days I just want to zoom by. I don’t what to be there with every brain cell “on”, that would just make me lose my temper and I would end up with a epic meltdown right outside of the car in front of the in that move falling down. I don’t think that would be the best experience for my daughter...

But we all need to watch out for when we feel unfocused in situations that is unfamiliar and that is important. Like when we are sitting down to make that new painting or when that furious daughter is reaching for the hot coffee pot. One eye on the road ready to step on the break.

As off very newly, I try to start every new phase of the day with a question. How much of my full attention is needed for this particular part of the day? Can I put on coffee with half my brain on sleep mode (yes I absolutely can, for the record). How much of me is needed to set the composition in this painting (like, everything I got).

This have improved not only my art but also most of the stuff I do. My spouse probably see this in another light and with all right, I am not perfect.

I don’t want to sound like some sort of Buddha here. I still phase out and mess things up. I sometimes forget the question before I start stuff. But once things is starting to fail I kind of get why, I stop, I slow down, and focus, I might even be able to fix it.

Also some times even this fails...but at least I tried to turn stuff around. That must be better then doing stuff in panic and not understanding why.

So when you feel like you start to regress. Stop, focus on every small step and allow things to take its time. If the sketch is taking you 5 hours to figure out. Let it take 5 hours, don’t stress and don’t panic. Unpack that mental backpack and see what tools you have to solve this first step with. What do you know about perspective and how should you use that knowledge right now, for example. Just woosha and chill out. 

So that concludes my first great insight in becoming a better artist. Yeah I am a box filled with great wisdom and knowledge. But in all seriousness, life can become really hectic at times and it is easy to phase out. We all need to turn that autopilot off from time to time so it is a good thing to start to find where that damn button is located. And when it comes to art you really need to have both hands on the steering wheel most of the time. I hope this was helpful for someone out there, I really needed to figure this out.

Keep on painting and have a wonderful day!