There are so many lessons as an artist that we uncover as we create. Unfortunately, some of these lessons can stop artists before they even start.


Hi my name is Carrie and I run Artist Strong: a community space dedicated to helping you build your skill and develop your unique artist voice.


Today let’s uncover 7 Lessons I’d Tell My Early Artist Self.


Lesson number one: Give yourself permission to play

Not every artwork you create has to be a finished product for show or sale. Play helps us problem solve and explore new ideas for new work! There’s even research that shows life without play can have disastrous consequences.

Honestly, I’m still not great at this but that’s one reason I make my mandalas. They are FUN. I feel a return to my childhood coloring at the kitchen table with my mom and grandmother. And I encourage you to find ways to play when it comes to your art.

The second lesson is Talent is overrated

I’ve uncovered endless research that outlines and explains how we can build our skills in any discipline we choose IF we practice the right way. Too many people think if they aren’t born naturally inclined to the arts they can never be great at it. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not true.

I was never the best artist in my class. In high school, I was light-years behind my peers in terms of skill and no, I’m not exaggerating. Today I can confidently call myself skillful, but I could have taken years of less time if I trusted that I could learn and build my skill. I wasn’t plateauing in my skill because that’s all I was capable of but instead it was a reflection of my strategy of practice needing an upgrade.

If you want to know more you can read my article How to Improve Your Art Skills, which I have linked below this video.

And that takes me to the next lesson, which is

Failure is the ONLY option

I wish I knew how important and valuable rejection and failure is as part of the creative process. I also wish I knew that NO ONE in the history of making art had managed to avoid rejection or failure.

Need more encouragement in this topic? Read or watch my article How rejection MAKES you an artist, linked below.

Lesson number four is Accept feedback from the right people

I wish I fostered relationships with mentors, teachers and artist friends who could give me actionable feedback on my skill AND developing my unique artist voice.

free art lessons, art resources, art education, art tips, art ideas

Lesson number five is Ignore feedback from the wrong people

Well meaning family and friends, who have no knowledge of making or selling art can offer you advice; but will it really help you grow as an artist?

I have a great resource for you about navigating feedback and I’ve linked it below this video.

Lesson number six is Ask more questions

I wish I gave myself permission to speak up more when I had a question or wanted clarification on a topic or technique.

I had this idea in my head that if I didn’t already know the answer that meant something was wrong with me (hello perfectionism). So many times, when I had questions, I didn’t ask them. That all changed in college when I was in a sociology class with my future roommate and friend Robin (hi Robin!).

She and I weren’t friends yet. She sat in the front row of the class and had loads of questions to ask the professor. I thought she had good questions and we all took note of them. But what really made my head spin was when she shared her marks with me and I realized she was one of the top students in our class. How much did I miss out by not asking the questions I had to ask?

It’s always easy to look back and see clarity where there was none in the moment. And sometimes we can get caught up in where we think we “should” be instead of considering we are exactly where we need to be; that’s why the last lesson today is:

Enjoy the journey

Stop looking for gold stars and see the beauty in the act of discovery. Enjoy the wonder that comes from discovery and artistic exploration. So much easier said than done but it’s time we stop focusing entirely on the end product.

Now I’ve love to know which lesson do you connect with most? Tell me in the comments below.

I also want to let you know about an upcoming challenge I will be hosting in February. It’s called Drawing Drills and it’s a 7 day free activity where I outline the formula I mention in Lesson Two so that ANYONE, and I mean anyone, can learn how to draw or improve their drawing skills.

When people tell me they can’t draw a line, or that they are not confident in their art ability, it’s usually because they can’t draw realistically. So I’ve created a free challenge to help you build that skill so you can be informed in all the art you create. I want you to make the best art possible and improving your drawing skills definitely helps.

Be sure to sign up through the button below this video and mark your calendars: we start Feb 15! Don’t worry, if you watch this video after Feb 15 you can sign up for a self-study version of the challenge and get support with other artists doing it in the Facebook Group or with the hashtag #DrawingDrills.

Thanks for watching and see you next time here on Artist Strong.

There is a formula to improve your drawing skills...but are you using it?

Join Drawing Drills: a FREE 7 day art challenge

uncover the research based strategies that experts in every field use to improve their skill.

Draw better, draw faster, draw from your imagination!

Enjoy this free bonus when you sign up for Artist Strong's weekly newsletter.

We honor your privacy - read more here.

Powered by ConvertKit