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Celebrating Small Wins with Your Art: 15 Tips to Help You Stay Motivated and Inspired

Balloons spelling out the words party time
Party Time

As artists, we often set high standards for ourselves and strive for perfection in our work. However, it's important to remember that progress is a journey, not a destination. Celebrating small wins along the way can help us stay motivated and inspired to continue creating.

Here are 15 tips to help stay motivated and inspired that help me.

  • 1. Set achievable goals: Breaking down larger projects into smaller, more manageable tasks to help you stay focused and motivated. If you're anything like me when faced with a large project/painting it can seem like too much and I have a hard time even just getting started. Breaking it down into steps and putting it into a time line just gives me a visual way of seeing and saying "Oh, I can manage that."

  • 2. Keep a visual progress journal: Document your progress and reflect on your achievements helps to motivate and inspire. If you looked at my phone I take a million pictures with each piece. I find for me it points out when things are off by letting me step back and look at the piece objectively. The other good thing about this is it gives me a visual way of seeing how far along the piece has come. There's something so magical when you get to the point it starts to transform into itself. It is almost like watching a flower bloom. It happens so slow sometimes we don't notice and celebrate the subtle shifts.

  • 3. Share your work: Share your work with others to receive feedback and celebrate your accomplishments. This one often seems the most daunting until you actually do it. I found that fear plays a big factor in this. Whether its fear of criticism or of sharing such a personal part of yourself and it not being accepted. The internet especially has a reputation of being a negative space. It was surprising to me just how supportive it actually was. It is very rare someone straight out says something negative and when I've asked them to be more specific so I could work on it and become a better artist, if it was done from a malicious place, they will just not respond at this point. If it was a true gesture of criticism then I now have a direction to go.

Just remember your art is not a reflection of who you are as a person.

A woman looking at her reflection in a mirror
your art is not a reflection of you

  • 4. Take breaks: This includes mini breaks while you are working and longer breaks in-between projects. We tend to exert a great deal of focus when we work. Two things happens when we do this one the physical aspect. Sitting, standing in one spot, holding our tools for long periods of time and even our eyes looking so intently for so long can all take a tole. The one people often discount is the mental fatigue aspect ,thinking is actually really hard work done in long periods with so much focus. Studies have shown taking short 5 to 20 min breaks throughout the overall time you work can actually end up in producing longer, more productive work sessions. Getting up and stretching or walking around reduces the stress in your muscles and joints. It can also reduce the level of mental fatigue and stress. Taking breaks between projects can help to avoid burnout and recharge your creative energy and gives you a new perspective when you come back to your work.

As artist we empty our cups into our projects. What fills your cup back up?

Coffee being poured from a coffee pot into a cup
What fills your cup?

  • 5. Embrace imperfection: Embrace your mistakes and learn from them to grow as an artist. No one (or at least a vast majority of society) naturally comes to the level of the masters. Not even the masters. What is easy to forget is even the master had to go through a period of learning and exploring to get to where they were. In most of these artists lifetime they never got the accolades they are afforded now. Mistakes, disaster, failure will often show us where we need to work on next. Celebrate learning those small skills because they will add up to something big in the future. Foundations are rarely ever seen or thought of but are so important to help a building stand tall.

  • 6. Celebrate progress, not just perfection: Celebrate the progress you make along the way, not just a vague goal of perfection. No one is perfect so setting yourself up to hit a vague concept like this can be a very demoralizing point if you can't hit it. Evaluate your definition of "Perfect" and what that means to you. Often time you'll find that what is perfect for one piece isn't the same for the next piece. Do my lines need to be absolutely straight to get to where it needs to be? Does my blending need to be subtle to pull off this effect? Focus on those skills and celebrate when you hit them.

  • 7. Give yourself credit: We are sometimes our own worst critics. It can be hard for us to take a step back and give ourselves objective complements. Learn to give yourself credit for the hard work and effort you put into your art. Pretend you are talking to a friend that just made this piece what would you say to them? What is your favorite part of it?

  • 8. Focus on the process: Focus on the process of creating, not just the end result. what's the point of going for a drive if you're not going to look out of the window at all the beauty.

  • Find inspiration in small things: Look for inspiration in everyday life and small details. You would surprising how this adds into a more grateful mentality when you slow down and take in what is right in front of you.

  • Collaborate with others: Collaborate with other artists to learn new techniques and celebrate your achievements together. This one I sometimes forget. It always amazes me how much I do enjoy working with other artist but I do find a lot of the time i get wrapped up in my solitary projects and don't really mingle in that way. Given where I live it can sometimes be a hard task, But a communal studio space would be lovely someday.

  • Set deadlines: Set deadlines for yourself to help you stay accountable and motivated. I would never get anything done if I didn't set deadlines for myself. Something about a looming deadline just gives me the kick in the pant to overcome my procrastinating ways

  • Reward yourself: Reward yourself for achieving your goals and celebrating your small wins. What be reason to show yourself some love than an milestone. You know you deserve it.

  • Experiment with new techniques: Experimenting with new techniques can help you grow as an artist and celebrate your progress. I find i have no issues in this department most pieces i go into knowing what i want the end result to be. Figuring out how to get there tends to involve trial and error sometimes. I always learn so much when I have to do this.

  • Learn from others: Learn from other artists and seek out feedback to improve your skills and celebrate your achievements. I love when i get the chance to take workshops or sit in on a class of some sort. I think that is one of my favorite things about art is the shear volume of learning that is possible in it.

  • Practice gratitude: Practice gratitude for the opportunity to create and for the small wins along the way. I find this helpful when I am frustrated with a piece somethings just having that mind shift takes the pressure off and I can come back more relaxed and just enjoy what I am doing.

In conclusion, celebrating small wins with your art is essential for staying motivated and inspired. By setting achievable goals, keeping a progress journal, sharing your work, taking breaks, embracing imperfection, celebrating progress, giving yourself credit, focusing on the process, finding inspiration in small things, collaborating with others, setting deadlines, rewarding yourself, experimenting with new techniques, learning from others, and practicing gratitude, you can celebrate your achievements and enjoy the journey of creating.


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