You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone

Incomplete Cherry Blossom Tutorial from Cynthia Knox CP Florals


As a beginner artist you may run into more issues than you bargained for. You may even find that the ones you think will be hardest end up the easiest, such as saving for your artist grade pencils. There is so much to learn as well, but there are so many fantastic tutorials out there, that this can seem pretty easy as well….

The hardest issues I have found many new artists face is within themselves. Lack of confidence, lack of time, lack of focus, boredom, procrastination, fear of failure, frustration, emotional blocks, or some other blockage can come to the fore pretty quickly!


Out of all of those options, boredom is probably the easiest to overcome – choose an image that really calls to you, picture where you are going to hang it, or who you are going to give it to, and you will find the boredom goes away as quick as it came. You need a purpose for each piece, so find that purpose within yourself and then follow it through, even if the purpose is just to learn how to do a certain thing like fur.

Lack of Confidence

Lack of confidence can be a huge issue for many beginners also. The best, but most terrifying way of overcoming this is to show your work. Whether it is to your family, your friends or an online group that has the same interest as yourself. Personally I have found the online groups to be a huge source of inspiration and personal confidence boost. My family and friends also love what I am trying to achieve and they support me 100% (especially my partner Peter!), but its not the same as the support you can get from a group of wonderful people that are either trying to learn just like you, or are miles ahead and can give you great feedback and answer all your questions. Watching a professional coloured pencil artist at work or viewing their final pieces can be a huge source of inspiration, so long as you don’t start telling yourself that you will never be that good. Of course you will! You just need to focus and practice just like they had to. Do yourself a favour and ask your favourite artists how long they have been creating for, then consider how long you have been creating for, and you will see why there is a big difference. Don’t give up, keep going and one day you too will be one of those artists that beginners look up to!

Some of the best groups with the loveliest people I have come across are on facebook:

Lack of Time and Focus

This is one of my main issues. I work a full time job which is very mentally draining, but not really physically draining. It is also very hard on the hands and arms because I am constantly typing or using the mouse all day. By the time I get home from work, I am too brain dead or sore to pick up a pencil. I am usually exhausted to the point where I can’t be bothered doing much of anything other than looking at other peoples wonderful work or videos, then I look up and its time for bed, so I head to bed feeling a little miserable because I achieved nothing again. On the weekend there’s housework, washing, family, commitments, lack of energy, lack of focus, just a general lack. Or there’s always something more important that has to be done first. Does this sound like you?

There are no perfect answers for this one, it will be different for every person. Everyone has different priorities, different needs, different stories, so each of us has to look at our own lives and work out where your new found love of coloured pencil art fits, what priority it gets. Once you have worked this out, don’t kick yourself because its not the highest priority thing in your life, be content that you are fitting it in when you can. Don’t let anyone else tell you that you aren’t achieving much, or that you should focus more, they don’t know what your life is like, what your thinking, how your feeling… stick to your own choices and be happy with them.

Some things that I am going to try to change in my life to help me achieve more focus are:

  • Walk at lunchtime (try to get some more exercise during work hours)
  • Walk on the treadmill when I get home (get the blood pumping after the 30 minute downtime trip home)
  • Book an appointment with myself – 8-9pm coloured pencil work – set the alarm!

What are some things you think you could do to try to combat your lack of time or focus?


…the act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention

Oh my! This is my favourite friend! How much time have I wasted instead of actually doing my artwork. Even writing this article is time I could be working on finishing off one of my half done projects (and there are quite a few of those as you can see!).

Procrastination for me is caused by one of two things – I hate what it is and don’t want to do it (mopping, ironing, housework in general LOL), or I love it and don’t want to fail (my artwork)…

Fear of Failure

Fear of failure is probably the most common cause for people either not starting, or not finishing their artwork pieces. Many beginners on the groups say the same thing… they haven’t finished a piece yet.

Unfortunately Coloured Pencil pieces take so long to complete that they often take 3, 4 or more sittings to get them done, especially when you are first learning. This means that this point of “fear of failure” is going to raise its ugly head several times throughout any individual piece. The start/stop of a project also means that other things can interfere with your creative time or creative focus, and by the time you look back at your artwork, its a week later and you’ve forgotten how you got there in the first place (process wise).

My Art Space

My Art Space

Even if you are half way through a piece and its looking great, the fear of failure can hit hard…. “if I start work again, I might destroy what I have already achieved!”  Procrastination raises its ugly head and before you know it, months have passed and there sits your half done project. You might play with your pencils more, try other bits and pieces, but that piece is still staring you in the face, so you put it away and then eventually start on another piece thinking this one will be different… and around the circle goes….

I say this from full blown experience! I have been playing with my pencils for nearly 10 months now and I have 5 half complete pieces and zero fully complete pieces to show for it! I should be so proud I have averaged one unfinished piece every 2 months! WOOT! I could have completed 30-40 tutorials by now. Instead I have a lovely art room, I have all the things I could possibly need to complete many artworks, I have colour swatches and colour cards, and all sorts of helpful things – just not one finished piece.

  • Fear of failure doesn’t make sense since no-one will ever see anything I completely wreck. I can put it in the bin and start again and no-one would be the wiser… except me….
  • It could possibly be because I don’t get enough “creative” time, but I have many many hours where I could be working on a piece and for whatever reason I find other things to do instead…
  • It could possibly be because I spend most of my time in the left brain world of computers and not near enough time in the right brain creative side, however, a personality test has shown that I have a stronger right brain focus than left brain focus – not by much, but its there… so I should be able to slip into creative mode fairly easily….
  • It could be because I don’t get a long enough stretch of time, but I have full weekends where I could do nothing but create…

it could be 100 reasons for me, and a different 100 reasons for you. The hard part is working out what those reasons are and what you can do to overcome them.

The Artistic Zone…

As a beginner, have you ever found your zone? You know that place where time and everything else ceases to exist except for the artwork you are working on? I have found it several times, so much so that Peter has been able to walk up the hallway tapping the wall (to let me know hes coming), walk into my room and then lean over me before I even realise he is there! I tell you now, heart attacks do not lend themselves very well to being “in the zone” LOL

One of the things I find the hardest to do is to quiet my mind long enough to get into that peaceful wonderful zone where my creativity comes to the fore. Long days at work, outstanding housework, emotional issues, stress, tiredness, frustration, other priorities, and a million other things can get in the way of sinking into the zone. To do any sort of artwork, I believe I need to be in a fairly peaceful place before I begin. I think over the past 10 months, I have achieved this zone 5 times! LOL

The times when I have been able to focus on my artwork have been the times when all of my housework was complete (to my standards! LOL), my partner was happy, all of my outstanding urgent tasks were done, I wasn’t tired or stressed or upset about something, and I felt more at peace with where my life was at that moment in time. It hasn’t happened often simply because until today I never even noticed it. Now that I have, I will do my best to “clear my plate” before trying any artwork piece again.

How do you get into your zone? What do you think would make it easier for you to enter your zone? Do you have to have the perfect environment to create? Could this be part of the reason you don’t finish your artworks?


a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less

Perfection – the highest degree of proficiency, skill, or excellence, as in some art

Its highly possible that this is a big part of the reason why I personally haven’t ever finished a piece. Once I do something I don’t like or it doesn’t look like the image I am trying to replicate, I lose heart and lose my will to go on. I start to think “I’ll do better on the next piece” and then slowly but surely I lose interest in the piece. I believe to some degree its probably a part of every persons reason for not finishing something they have started. To be “perfect” as a beginner when you are following the tutorials of a master is a ridiculous thing to try to achieve, but I can guarantee as a beginner that most of us try to achieve this … and fail.

So we are back at “fear of failure” again. When we start a piece we hope to achieve an outcome as good as the master who achieved the piece in the first place, and that’s simply not going to happen until we have many more years of experience under our belts,… even then it would be impossible to replicate what the master has achieved because we are each individuals and each have our own style. This is a good thing! We don’t want to be who they are, we want to be ourselves and so we should be focusing on learning the techniques in our own way rather than killing ourselves trying to replicate what has already been done.

I believe Coloured Pencil Art lends itself to failure so much easier than other art forms. For a start, it takes so long to achieve a single finished piece so there are many breaks where other things can interfere. Secondly, every Coloured Pencil Art piece goes through an ugly stage where it is easy to quit and say “I’m never going to get this!”, when in fact you are only a layer or two away from something amazing.

Following a master in their tutorials is a fantastic way to learn different techniques, but the main thing we are all missing as beginners is the piece of ourselves that we need to put in the mix. So what if our piece doesn’t look exactly like the masters? Does it look good to you? Are you proud of what you have achieved? Then that should be all YOU need to be happy. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t try to replicate what others have done. Just be you. With each new piece you will improve, your technique will evolve, your outcome will be closer to what you want, not what someone else says it should be. This is the area I think most beginners forget – to be yourself, to go at your own pace, to do the things you love in the way you love to do them. They don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be YOU!

I know for a fact that I forget those things, so you are not alone! There are many of us out there trying to find who we are through our artworks, struggling to learn to be less harsh on ourselves, trying to complete that first piece…..

I hope you have found this helpful in some small way.

Happy Creating!



How do you learn best?

How do you learn best?

Yesterday at work I took a personality test online just to see what it would show, and I must admit it was pretty accurate. One of the main things I learned was that I have chosen one of my top Employment Types (IT Specialist) which is why I love my job. I found it very interesting that my other top jobs listed Artist and Web Design, which explains why my hobbies fit so well and make me happy also (even if I get a little frustrated with myself) lol

The most interesting part I found though was the learning section. The report showed what it thought was my best way (or ways) for me to learn new things based on my individual personality. The three ways it chose for me to learn were fairly evenly spaced, though visual definitely came out the highest. When I thought about the results and compared it to what I have been doing for the past 12 months, I found it is correct. I personally learn more and enjoy learning more by watching… Youtube videos, craftsy videos, kit and clowder,,, and many others have been the best source of inspiration and learning for me, they are the ones that keep me coming back again and again. The downside to this is that I spend way more time watching than doing! Lol

Learning Style 1

I have purchased many books and individual tutorials also, which is also a visual way of learning, but they don’t tend to hold my attention as much as the video/live lessons and I don’t get as much out of them because I cannot physically see what the teacher is doing. I can start one because I absolutely love the image, but when it comes to finishing? I think I lose interest. With this in mind, I have decided to try completing some video tutorials over the next few months to see if that makes a difference. I may well find that my issue with finishing has more to do with “fear of failure” than the style of learning, but we will see 🙂

In what ways do you learn best? Do you know? Have you really thought about it and focussed your learning in that area? Is the way you are trying to learn holding you back? If you are not sure, you could take the personality test also and see what it says for you. It does have a price tag but I thought $39 was worth it to see what they thought 🙂

Learning Method 3
Learning Method 2