What are you struggling with most in your art?  This is a question I asked in my Facebook Group members this week. 

The response was huge!!  There were some repeating responses.  But you know what?  I’ve struggled with all these things  in the past and present and probably will in the future too.  I have a handy set of tools to get me through these difficult times.  I’m regularly share them with you.  This is Part 1.  Part 2 will be out next week and Part 3 is just one question with it’s very own blog post!

Comment below if any of these answers has helped you or you have any ideas to help.

Question 1. Finishing a piece. They all go through that ugly stage. That’s when I get frustrated and quit instead of finishing it.

Answer: Can you take one small painting ( a painting that is making you feel good and you love or you love the idea of the finished piece the most) Promise yourself you’re going to finish it. Then see how that makes you feel. Was it worth the struggle to finish it? Did it surprise you that if wasn’t as hard to finish as you thought? Think about all the feelings you felt whilst finishing it and decide whether you want to have another go at finishing one.

 Question 2. Daring to try bigger sizes!

Answer: Just go for it. Either use cheap paper so you aren’t worrying about the cost or use paper that you can clean off and start again – like pastelmat. What if it turns out that your art is better bigger, but you were so afraid to try you never found that out?

Question 3. Perfection, never happy

Answer: This is a good thing. Being continually dissatisfied means you’ll always be improving.


Question 4. How the heck do I draw wet fur?

Answer: I’ve got a tutorial coming for that in the New Year. But basically you have to study the form.


Question 5. Health.got the want and the means but the body says NOOOO

Answer: Can you make things simpler. Take 2 pastel pencils and do something monochrome on your lap or in bed. Make sure you’ve got a cover over you so you don’t get pastel dust all over you or the bed. I wouldn’t recommend using pastel sticks in bed.


Question 6. something to paint within my limited ability

Answer: Choose your favourite subject to keep your motivation high and do small studies. These take less time and you’ll learn lots.


Question 7. Motivation to start, especially when it is a large piece that I know I can’t do in one sitting.

Answer: Having a dedicated space to leave your art out is essential to keeping your motivation going. It’s so disruptive having to put everything away each time and you can lose track of the supplies you are using too.


Question 8. Finishing lol get to the last touches and and get scared I’m going to ruin it I have Soo many canvas close to finish

Answer: Can you pick your favourite and imagine how brilliant it would be to have that one finished?


Question 9. For me it has to be learning to paint quicker. I have a tendency to paint in light layers and slowly (I mean slowly) build up. It takes hours and days to complete a painting.

Answer: Can you give yourself a time limit challenge, see what heppens when you speed up?


Question 10. I have not picked a specific place to set up and leave everything out. It would be my basement but I would have to have lights put in.

Answer: Whilst you’re waiting for lights to be fitted, can you get a day light lamp (s) in the meantime?)


Question 11. Procrastination

Answer: This blog post on procrastination should help you with some ideas 


Question 12. Ideas. What to paint next.

Answer: Use free photo sites like Unsplash.com. Browse the photos and search for subjects you love.


Question 13. Using a light pressure when putting pastel down.

Answer: This is a great tutorial for showing you how to use soft pastel with light pressure: https://skhportraits.co.uk/product/red-squirrel-soft-pastel-tutorial/


Question 14. How to pastel whiskers.

Answer: I have lots of tutorials showing you how to do this. It really is the hardest thing to do. You have to have a steady hand, a perfect sharp pastel pencil shape or sharp pastel stick and you have to be consistent every single whisker. It REALLY IS HARD and it takes lots of practice to get it right. It took me a good few years to really master whiskers and even now I get them wrong. So I rub them out and go again. This tutorial is the best one that shows you how to pastel whiskers. 45 minutes of me showing you how: 

 Question 15. Ideas of what I want to depict that are beyond my technical competence – like trying to create a realistic enough elephant wrapped in a blanket or a dancer made of water.

Answer: Don’t let the negative thoughts put you off. Keep trying and you’ll get better with every try. It can be frustrating, but nothing worth doing ever comes easy.  But it is easier when you choose a subject you are really passionate about.


Question 16. Wondering how to use hard pastels

Answer: Hard pastels can be use the same as soft pastels but they are also good for drawing and using for sharp edges too.


Question 17. I dither about picking the right colours if I’m not following your excellent tutorials

Answer: this is perfectly normal. Choosing colours is hard and takes a lot of practice to build your colour sense and train your eyes to see better colours. Remember that the colours don’t have to be exact and it’s more about tonal values than exact colour matches.


Question 18. I’m still not sure if I have my own style yet .. I don’t worry about it really as long as the finished article looks his I want it to 💜

Answer: Having your own style with Realism is a tall order but you can get a recogniseable style with techniques and colours. Keep going and like you say, Don’t worry about the style, it will come.


Question 19. Getting that fine detail, especially in fur or hair.

Answer: My tutorials are all about the details. Detail in my instruction for you and details in the fur and hair. Choose your favourite subject from my soft pastel tutorials.