Practice makes progress

Barb Toland Creative Sparks

Have you ever started a new creative project just to get frustrated over not having it go so well? Have you ever played it safe, and then just keep doing the same creative thing over & over (even if you're bored) because you've gotten so good at it? Have you ever gone to an art class to learn a new medium, only to come away totally discouraged with your efforts?

Let me tell you, this is normal if you're striving to reach outside your creative comfort zone!

And you know what the remedy is so that you start feeling more comfortable?


And once you've practiced a thing long enough, you may not reach perfection (which is extremely overrated anyways) but you will make progress.

Something you may not know is that secretly tucked away behind my studio door are many many many practice pieces. Most of the time they fall into the category of watercolor sketches, but they can also be drawings or encaustic musings (my second love).

So today, in preparation for my upcoming sunrise watercolor collection, I'm going to share with you a progression of 5 watercolor sketches of one sunrise in particular that I've been practicing. Although there are lots more!

If you stick with me thru all 5, you will see that the magic of getting closer to where you want to be is in the consistency of showing up & making a ton of uglies ;-)

So here's the first one I did...


I really decided I liked this color palette, and the watery feeling of it. So I thought this was a good first start!

And then came this one...

It's not too bad. But I think I got kind of lost, and overall the painting became muddied, and it doesn't have that nice crisp look I'm always aiming for.

Then here's the biggest "stinker" of them all...

I call this the ugly duckling in the middle lol. Totally muddied, there's even a brownish tone to the red, instead of that beautifu rose colored magenta look I was going for.

After pondering a bit, I realized I was playing around way too much with the paint (which is a danger no matter which medium you're working in).

So I pulled back on the overworking & came up with this one...

Which I was pretty pleased with.

I especially like the brilliance of the orange & the richness of the rasberry color. I also thought the way the water kind of frames the dappled sunlight on the ocean & how it bleeds into the sand is pretty cool.

I felt at this point I was getting pretty darn close, but I thought I would give it one more go...

And this my friends is what happens when one persists! Especially love those clouds. But remember these are still sketches, the real deal sunrise paintings are yet to come!!

And here's my ugly ducking in the middle one side-by-side with the last one I did, which I was pretty darn pleased with...


Um yeah, practice does make progress!!!

So if your first attempts are displeasing to you, don't give up. Persistance & tenacity are the keys to getting better no matter what creative attempt you're making. Promise.

And if you already know that you probably won't get very far with your first try, then you'll be much more likely to be brave enough to go for something outside your zone of comfort.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Maybe even share a photo of something you created? Chatting about art & creativity can be a pleasant distraction ;-)

And if you'd be so kind as to share this blog post on Facebook &/or Twitter by clicking on the icons directly below, I would be so appreciative!

Older Post Newer Post