Today’s video is a little different….it’s not a tutorial, but it’s something I hope we can have a substantial conversation about! I really want artists to feel better about themselves; but we are our biggest saboteurs! We trash our abilities and our work, even in subtle ways with words we don’t realize are speaking negativity into our minds—hampering our ability to grow.


Video: Changing our art language

In today’s video, a flashback to “two things and a rant” that I used to do years ago, I’ve got two things:

  1. Sea Shepherd fundraiser printable continues through Sunday
  2. July’s HUGE list of classes on sale ends August 1!

And the rant…all about the language we use and how it can damage our psyche – causing us to have major artist block when facing a blank piece of paper!

Watch the video below or click HERE to see it on YouTube and leave comments over there or at the end of this post.

If you’d like to hear more about how I worked through this painting, it’s over in Patreon for members of that community.

Changing our art language

For years now I’ve been working through peeling certain words from my vocabulary; and as Toastmasters has showed me, once we become aware of our language issues (like uhm and uh) then we hear it more in others all the time! As I get further from the place I used to be, and am no longer dissing my work or skills, I’ve really seen it happening all over the place. 

Don’t say: “I’m just a ____.” It makes the art medium/genre we work in less important. Less artistic. And….imply that it’s less valuable. While it may come from a humble heart not wanting to sound like a pro/expert, it’s also dismissing your own creative efforts as not very good.

Do say: “I’m an artist who makes ___.” This honors your work, your talents, and your supplies.

Don’t say: “I wish I could ___.” Wishing implies there’s some magical fairy who needs to sprinkle you with pixie dust. We know that’s not coming! It implies that those who can do the thing you’re drooling over have had that pixie dust – and not that they’ve worked hard for decades to get where they’re at.

Do say: “I’m working toward ___.” Even if your steps are halting beginner ones, this tells your mind that you have a goal. You have a vision to get toward that place in your art. Your brain will respond! Not instantly but in time it will stop blocking you every time you sit down because there’s a goal you’re working toward.

Don’t say: “I can’t/won’t ever be able to do ___.” Talk about training your mind to believe the goal is beyond you. Now there’s not even a fairy to hope for. It’s just a fact that there’s a brick wall, and you’ll be filled with fear every time you try. Remember it may take you longer or shorter of a time to reach where someone else arrived at; just because it’s taking time doesn’t mean you won’t get there.

Do say: “I’m excited to be learning to do ___.” Tell that little guy in your brain that he’s supposed to be happy every time you sit down to practice. That the blank page is supposed to be filled with anticipation and not dread.

The trifecta to avoid is saying “I wish I could do more than just stamp since I can’t draw.” How about turning that around: “I love to stamp other artist’s drawings and give them my own flair in coloring them.” That honors you, honors the artist who drew the stamps, and honors your supplies!

I’ve begun unsubscribing from channels or social feeds that are full of negative language, even if not intentionally done, so that it doesn’t creep back into my brain again. That might seem extreme, but we need to guard our minds in order to grow. Finding encouraging voices who help me see my potential and not my roadblocks is what keeps me in a good mental place.

The Painting

The results of the first pass, which happened while everything was very very wet:

The finished painting was a delightful surprise to me; I was applying techniques I’d learned in architecture classes I’ve taken from mentors of mine….proving once again to myself that a technique has so many more applications than just what it was taught to do!


In case you missed out on the fun on social media this week….tap on an image to go see more!


  1. Henriëtte

    Great video Sandy, so true and we can’t hear this enough.
    Your painting is stunning!
    Thank you so much for sharing your inspiration and encouraging.
    Stay safe and have a wonderful day.

  2. Gab

    I’m so guilty of ‘I’m just a ” – thanks for the reminder to be kind to ourselves

  3. Dawn Y.

    Thank you for such valuable reminders of the powerful effect that our own thoughts and language have on our artistic journeys, Sandy! I quoted you in my Morning Pages journal, so that I can revisit your words often. Heartfelt thanks for all the wisdom and encouragement that you so generously share with us!

  4. Dottie James

    Sandy, thanks for your consistent encouragement and for all you have taught me. Even as I have watched your skills grow through the years I have followed you, you still manage to make it all accessible to the most basic of beginners. You share your gifts as an artist and a master teacher and this community is enriched by it. Thank you and may God continue to bless you.

  5. Nancy Robinson

    Thank you Sandy for reminding us that we count, that what we do counts. My mind is going over other areas where I don’t honor myself therefore allowing others to think the same. It’s a good day to make some changes.
    Big Hugs,

  6. Karen L.

    Thank you! Really appreciate the encouragement and wisdom, Sandy.

  7. Betsy Birge

    Thank you so much Sandy for these words that needed to be said. Our lack of self-confidence can come from many places. Determination to be more confident is a long road. But that road is full of learning and seeing yourself progress and get better painting by painting. People measure themselves by their own standards. And that’s what we need to do – particularly if you’re a beginner…measure yourself by your own successes and failures. Only then will you gain the confidence you need to say to yourself – well done!

  8. Win Noren

    So much great advice here. Good reminders with a challenge to put it to practice. Thank you!


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