Frustrating Frustrations

All artists have those frustrating days when nothing seems to be working. Follow these simple ideas for breakthrough to making art fun again!

All artists have those frustrating days when nothing seems to be working. Every effort just isn’t coming out right. You want to throw everything in the trash and start all over. Or worse, you want to give it all up. Its too hard.

What can you do when you are at the point where you want to throw in artistic towel? The main thing is don’t. Don’t throw in the towel until you see what other artists who have been in that same boat have to say.

The Virtual Instructor says when things aren’t going your way that it is often a sign of growth. All the more reason to stick with it! The Virtual Instructor goes on to list some helpful points for overcoming Frustrations.

  • Take A break
  • Don’t quit
  • Success is victory over adversity

In other words, keep going. On his blog, Don Corgi also says to take a break. He says, “Either just stop drawing for some time and instead watch and do things that inspire you.” Step away from easel or the table or whatever you make your art on.

Another site, SomeCallMeBeth, says, “Go easy on yourself.” That’s a very important point. So many of us are our own worst critic. The other important point SomeCallMe Beth makes is, “stop comparing yourself to others.” We can become critical of our art that is not working and then start looking at other artist’s work. We have a tendency to think other artists never go through frustrations. That its always easy for them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Taking a break is the first thing I do when I’m in that place. Take a few minutes or take a few days. Walk away, then come back and take another look. It’s amazing how taking a break then returning will frequently point out something I did not see before. It’s hard to resist the temptation to make comparisons with other artists but sometimes, an idea can come from looking at what another has done. It may spark an idea. What’s important is not to fall into the trap of thinking other artists couldn’t possibly have felt what you are feeling. They do. They all do. It comes with the territory.

Take it from other artists and go easy on yourself. Take a break. Success may be just around the corner. The most important thing is: do not quit!! We all hit roadblocks. The is the moment to keep on pushing. When you do, you feel really good about yourself and your art. Then you’ll be flying high again!!

Developing Artistic Style

Developing your personal artistic style can be fun with a little dedication and experimentation.

Once you know that all artist’s have a personal style, if you haven’t already, it’s time to develop a unique style. So where is the best place to start? Do you choose a topic to focus on? More than one topic? What about paint? Are you a watercolorist? Or maybe an acrylic painter? Oil may be your preferred medium. Pastel, charcoal, ink, the possibilities are endless. Then there is sculpture, ceramics, wood and more.

One of my favorite teachers, Ellen Soderquist in Dallas, TX said something to the effect of, “be sure you like what you choose as subject and medium because once people know and love what you are doing, it is hard to change.” In other words, choose something you don’t think you will get tired of. Does this mean you can never change? No, of course not. It means if you gain some success with a particular style you will probably want to continue with it. If you like what you are doing, then it won’t be difficult to continue. You’ll enjoy your art and so will other people.

  • Concentrate first on knowing what you like.
  • Test different materials and mediums.
  • Experiment.
  • Try out various subject matter or no subject, (abstract).
Oil Pastel

Now that you’ve narrowed down the medium and subject, it’s time to get to work. Christine Nishiyama, in a post on her blog,, says one way to develop your style is to make lots of art. She goes on to say that it is important to pay attention to any patterns or repeated elements you may notice developing in your work. When you see patterns or anything that repeats, focus on it. Spend more time working with those things that are repeating. See where they go. As Nishyama says, “Make lots of art.”

In a podcast for Laura Horn Art, Australian artist, Amica Whincop says she gave herself 6 months of painting everyday. That may be a bit stressful to put a goal that strict. A more casual goal might be to plan to spend some quality time making art for the next 6 months and see what develops. During that 6 months, you can experiment more with the different materials you have narrowed down, as well as subject matter. Take photos and look at them for comparison. Sometimes you see things in a photo that you don’t notice in the physical.

It’s important not to stress over any of this. The goal is to make art and enjoy the process. If it’s pushed to the point of becoming a burden, you will risk burn out.

So get going with your art making. Find what you like and run with it. Don’t think about it. Just do it and see what happens. You may come up with some interesting surprises. Think how exciting it will be when you begin to see your style emerging! Have fun! Happy painting!

Why Artistic Style?

A unique artistic style is something all artists have whether we know it or not.

A unique artistic style is something all artists have whether we know it or not. Some artists can be unsure what exactly is their personal style. Others may struggle with what they think their style ought to be. Seeing someone become successful with a particular style can trigger copycat attempts. Artists can think copying someone successful will make them successful too. Do you really have a personal style and why is that important?

One of the most important reasons for uncovering your style is your personal uniqueness. Your uniqueness is something that no one can completely duplicate. Gary Randall, in a post on his blog says, “Being unique is the best way to stand out in a crowd.” With all the many artists there are out there, we all need a way to cut away from the herd. Many people think copying the style of someone successful will make them successful too. Maybe, but not likely. The successful artist expressed something different from the crowd but copying that artist’s work does not mean copying their success. Instead look at what made that artist successful. What made that artist stand out?

Instead of copying, think more about why your own personal style matters. Pekoeblaze gives drawing artists three great reasons to develop a personal artistic style.

  • “Your drawings have more of a sense of ‘personality’.”
  • “Your work is a lot more recognizable.”
  • “Your drawings stand out and are more memorable.”

Who you are is the best thing about your art. Flaunt it! It’s great to learn from other artists. We all learn from each other. The difference is not to copy but to take pieces from each artist and add your own spin. When you copy, viewers know it. They may not realize they know it, they just know they don’t like what they are seeing. When you put your heart into your art, people sense it. No matter what your style is, that it is unique is what’s great about it.

Shakespeare knew what he was talking about when he said, “To thine own self, be true,” in a line from the play, Hamlet. He may not have been talking about art but it holds true for art, as well. When you sit down to paint next, think about your unique style. Then unleash it and let it rip!

Coming next week: Developing your personal style.

Inspired Art

As Painting during church grows in popularity, many are asking is it, “Prophetic Painting” or “Worship” visual art?

Painting during church services and similar events is growing in popularity. As visual art during church flourishes so will the attempts to define this type of painting. One name which has been frequently used is “prophetic painting.” Another common description is “Worship Painting.” Both names are correct although there appear to be some differences. While the names aren’t necessarily important, the art and the process are. Visual art was vital to the worshipers understanding of God and His ways during the age of the Renaissance. As churches became more utilitarian in appearance, visual art was lost as a vital part of the church. Is it now making a comeback?

oil on canvas-live event

“Prophetic” visual art appears to be more defined in its meaning. In an article one her website, The Prophetic Artist, Wendy Manzo makes three specific points about how Prophetic Art is defined:

  • God may speak to many different people through the one piece of art.
  • Prophetic art is an invitation into a divine partnership. 
  • It is art that carries a message from the heart of God to strengthen, encourage or comfort.

Helen Calder of Enliven Publishing, says, “It takes more than skill or talent to be a prophetic artist. The prophetic artist is someone who has a spiritual gift of prophecy, and who is also gifted and called by God to minister through art.” In Prophetic art, God is relaying His Love and direction through the work of the visual artist. The visual artist receives what the word is through images of some kind in spiritual form. As Calder further says, “A prophetic artist reproduces that picture, vision, or concept in art form.” Basically, the prophetic artist translates the message through visual artistic means.


Painting during church services can also be called “Worship Painting” and is created as an act of worship with the rest of the worship team. In a wonderful article for Experiencing Worship, author Manuel Luz, refers to painting during church as, “Live Painting,” and makes a number of important points:

  • Live painting is an act of creativity. And the act of creativity reminds us that we worship and are made in the image of an Eternally Creative God.
  • Live painting is a non-verbal expression of the sermon. 
  • God meets us in the act of creation. The Holy Spirit is our Inspirer. He works not only through the artist to express each brush stroke, but also works through the audience to ascribe meaning to that colored canvas.
  • Art can be Prophetic. The artist of faith has the ability to tell the story of God, and share the heart of God, through means beyond mere words.
  • The painter (or other visual artist) is considered a worship leader, and often stands alongside the other members of the worship team. 

Visual art painted during church can be “Prophetic,” an “act of worship”, or both. Manuel Luz makes another important point. Art during church must be professional, so to speak as the purpose is to focus on the message and worship of our Lord and cannot be undertaken lightly. And as such Luz says, “we cannot settle for art that is simplistic, derivative, superficial, propaganda-driven, or mediocre, for it reflects on the message. And our message is that of God’s love through Jesus Christ. If the story of God is to shine from our work, and we must be diligent and committed to pursue excellence, originality, and honesty as we express it.” 

All of these points are valid and important. My first experience with painting in church came at the request of a church who was seeking artists to paint on a particular topic during the lead up to Christmas. It was a very moving experience for me. The second experience was to paint a painting to be displayed on Easter. I painted the painting in my personal studio and delivered it to be hung the day before Easter behind the altar. The second one turned out to be as moving as the first. My third experience was painting during church in the sound booth while services were taking place. That started when I began getting visions in my head of the meaning of the sermon. I’m not sure whether I call my painting, “Prophetic” or an act of “Worship.” To me, the distinction doesn’t matter. I call them “Inspired by the Spirit.” I don’t know what the next step will be. I’ll just wait for inspiration from the Spirit of the Lord.

My next workshop is about creating Worship and/or Prophetic paintings. Join us HERE

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