We’ve all had times when our minds got out of control, telling us that our art is no good, or we’ll never be as good as so-and-so, or we’re incapable of getting past an obstacle.

You might think that a professional artist like me isn’t susceptible to that. I often receive comments to the effect of:

  1. “I wish I had just the talent you keep in your pinky finger!”
  2. “Is there a medium you can’t do well???”
  3. “I could never do that!”

But we ALL have those lies stalking us! Being a professional doesn’t automatically remove that.

Vlog: Remembering the time I believed ART LIES

While chatting, I’ve filmed a couple pyrography projects…this isn’t a tutorial, but just me giving you something fun to watch while I tell stories! AND it’s evidence that just because I’ve told myself before that I couldn’t do something – I can do it. And if I can, you can!

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

The Lie

I believed for many years – decades, even – that I was a coloreed pencil artist, period. That was my medium. That was what I did, and what I’ll ever do.

It stopped me from trying new things. Even asking questions about new things. It stopped me from growing. In fact, I was doing so little personal art in that time period, and it likely stopped me from even getting back to working in colored pencil!

Your lie might be different. 

But rest assured: it’s a lie.

Why lies work

Some people’s egos don’t let negative thoughts get them down – but I would guess there are MORE of us without that superhero ability!

Most of us are taught by our families to be humble. Don’t think too highliy of yourself, don’t put yourself above others. Without getting preachy here – even the Bible speaks to us on the subject, but it has a caveat included:

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. Romans 12:3 NIV
The sober judgment is the part may of us  miss. It’s sometimes translated as “sound judgment” “be reasonable” or “Be honest in your estimate of yourselves.” It means having a true picture of yourself, not more but also not less.
Your brain hears the words you speak. It believes you – after all, why would you lie to yourself? So it therefore works hard to act in accordance with those thoughts. If you think you can’t – you can’t, because your brain will make sure of it.

Conquering the lies

I have a few suggestions to get past the lies, but remember that the first step in overcoming them is to understand and internalize that they are LIES. If you refuse to recognize that a lot of what’s running around in your head isn’t true, not much of this advice will work.

Change your language

The words you speak to yourself matter. They can be life or death to you as an artist!

Instead of “I’m terrible at this,” try “I’m at the beginning of this journey and am excited for progress!”

Instead of “I’ll never learn this,” say “This is a tough challenge, but I’ve done other hard things, and this is no different.”

Instead of “I’ll never be as good as ___,” tell yourself “I really admire ___ and am growing as I study their work.”

And when speaking to other artists, watch for words that you may use as compliments to them that bounce back as criticism of yourself! Telling someone “You don’t do anything badly” your mind may well be hearing the rest of the sentence: “….like I do!” It’s great to admire others, but be aware when your comments may have implications upon yourself.

Watch your words. 🥰 Speak kindly about yourself this week!

Adjust your expectations

I’ve used this example before, but it bears repeating: no one goes to the gym once or twice and quits because they didn’t drop 40lbs immediately.
There’s an expectation with a LOT of things that you’ll need to work hard, practice, and learn new skills. You need to develop musckes you didn’t have before. The gym equipment may have some buttons to adjust weight and speed and you need to figure out how to operate it. And heck, there might be some diet changes to make outside the gym too!
Other areas of life are like this. You wouldn’t give up on a dream to play piano if your first 2 lessons didn’t have you conquering Chopin. Your first accounting class didn’t cover the content you’d be learning at the end of the semester.
So stop expecting art to be like that! Lots of art shared online can make it seem simple – but you don’t see all the previous attempts. You don’t see a lot of the erasing that happens. The crumpling of a drawing to start over. It’s not because people are trying to hide the truth from you; it’s because they’re making it succinct so you watch an optimal process. It might make your heart feel better to watch an artist ruin something – but by the time they’ve recovered from the error and gotten back on track, you have lost the flow of what they were trying to show.

Prove the lie wrong

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. —Vincent Van Gogh
Just do it. You won’t do it perfectly the first time, most likely. But you’ll have taken the first step in dislodging the lie. Just moving forward shakes things loose – so take a class, watch a tutorial, and give it a go.

Coming up

Most of what is in this post is family gifts (really hoping they still don’t read my blog, LOL!) – however I’ve got lots of little wood things I’ll be burning in coming days…I’m kinda obsessed! I’ll be adding those and some other small items to my fine art store in the near future – at least one batch will be posted for Black Friday and I might add more as we move through December too. So if you want a little piece of me to hang on your tree, be sure to pop over on BF!

What are your most common lies?

Let me know in comments. Think about the things that discourage you – the ones you ‘rehearse’ in your mind often. How true are they, really? Are they borne out by actual attempts at that thing you wanted to try? How much effort was put into learning that skill, and might you possibly have more you could try before casting off that idea as impossible?
Another cue: ask yourself what you’d say to a good friend who spoke those things about themselves. If you’d slap them around for selling themselves short, well…..just sayin’…… 🙂


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  1. Andrea B.

    I’m so glad you ventured into stamping and cardmaking because I learned about you through an OWH card druve at a local small scrapbook store, and still make cards for donation to this day. You taught me how to be a better cardmaker. It’s been a treat to see your artistic growth over the years, and that you’re doing what you love to do: teach. You’re great at it! God bless you, Sandy!

  2. creatingincolors

    What a great post, full of inspiration. Your pyrography is over-the-top gorgeous. What wonderful, treasured gifts they will be for your family.

  3. Monica Wolfrom

    As you always are…an inspiration both artistically and emotionally. Thanks so much for being you and sharing with us.

  4. Angelica Conrad

    What a beautiful post, Sandy. You’re right. Redirecting words changes everything. God bless, and thank you for this.

  5. Lisa

    You’re showing such a good example of stepping outside the box we put ourselves in. Taking your creative talent and using a new media very inspiring! I watch “portrait artist of the year” and there was an artist who did wood burning. It was so interesting to see artist do a portrait without using any paint!

  6. Teresa Miller

    Oh my…I so needed to see this tonight….thank you Sandy! I have been in a complete funk for months now and have maybe made just 1 sketch in that time after someone completely “stiffed” me on a commission….a small commission but one I had really worked very hard on and spent a lot of time on. They never came to pick it up and never paid after I contacted them twice and they responded and said they would.And it’s an extended family member at that! It just left me feeling so deflated and worthless as a “creator” (I don’t really feel worthy of the title of “Artist” so have a hard time using it). My biggest “lies”/fears are a fear of not being able to sketch/paint what I want (to the degree of perfection that I want to) that I never even start. I also get so overwhelmed by all the many ideas of things I would like to paint and/or should be working on that I just give up and don’t do any of it. Hence the “pit” that I’ve been spinning in for months now….with my art. Your words here are very helpful and encouraging and I’m going to try to start talking to myself “nicely”, like I certainly would someone else. 🙂

  7. Connie

    Your words are much needed Sandy! Can I just find a way to put them on loop now? Maybe I should memorize that verse! I have actually put watercolor to paper-pen and watercolor wash- now after thinking about it for a year. I’m making progress albeit slower than I would prefer! NO, make that “I’m at the beginning of this journey and am excited for progress!” Your pyrography pieces are awesome!!! I especially love the birds and Santa. Thanks for not being afraid to speak these words of truth. I needed to hear them.

  8. Gab

    Amazing post … we all need to flip our mindsets.

    Your projects are so cool too

  9. Laura P

    Some great comments, suggestions, ideas in this post. I sat next to you at a Copic certification class many, many years ago. I was clueless about them and was taking it to learn more for the store I worked at. You blew me away with your talent. However, you were very encouraging to someone completely new to them and I’ve done wads of practicing over the years and it’s been getting better over time (your Hex chart gave me another leap in shading). I still need to jump in to black cats (with shading!) though and white spots on cats/dogs throw me for a loop. Your post here has inspired me to take that leap next time I dig them out. I know I’ll need to practice tons to get them looking half way decent. But, they’re cats – I can handle that. LOL


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