Trouble finishing anything..
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  1. #1
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    Trouble finishing anything..

    Hey Guys,
    I've been dealing with this for a while, and it's even been brought up to me by my professor, on multiple occasions. I can't seem to finish anything that I start..I have stacks and stacks of half finished self portraits and still lifes. I'm not really sure what the reason is, I don't really get bored with drawings. I think it's maybe that I don't 'know how' to push a drawing to the end. It transfers over to my sketchbook as well, plenty of half-finished work in there.

    Was just hoping to maybe get some feedback from people who have dealt with this before and possible some suggestions.
    Thanks!

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    You may say that it isn't, but it sounds to be like you are bored with drawing because all you draw is studies and stuff to make you better at drawing.

    That's all well and good, but if you are struggling with finishing drawings it means you aren't excited about it. So quit drawing studies for a bit and let loose. Draw something fun. Once you think of something that you really enjoy drawing, the rest will follow.

    If you are genuinely not bored, try ditching the pencil and pick up a pen that way you can't erase. So what if you fuck up on a drawing, start over. This will help teach you how to use a medium that isn't sloppy and requires more precise movements. That way you can stop thinking in "sketch mode" and think in "finished drawing" mode.

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    Its said an artist needs someone to tell him when to stop. You're not stopping, you're giving up. Maybe something about finishing the piece is frustrating to you. It's not gonna turn out the way you imagined or something along those lines. But you gotta work with whats actually there and give it your all.

    Half way through the piece, its easy to get doubts. You will like it better when you gave it your all and have no idea what to improve. At least then you'll feel like you sincerely worked at it.

    I have this friend who's a young artist, he's 17 and his capacity to finish his work floors me. There are so many people who just sketch and doodle.. myself included. But my friend he'll go in one direction.. when its not exactly what he wants it never stops him.. he just plows right through and adds new life and mediums until his piece is actually finished. It can tend to get abstract and there's no judge besides himself but damn if its not actually done. Taught me something just watching his progress.

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    Dusty Thanks, maybe I'll try some Pen work from imagination, might give me a fresh feel of things.

    Mike Frank Yeah there are some kids like that in my classes. The end result isn't always great, but it's absolutely finished. I envy them in a way.

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    Diagnosis: Fear of failure/commitment. If you don't finish anything, you don't have to deal with the fact that it might not come out the way you want it to. Abandonment is better than potential disappointment. You've got to push through this. Accept that your work won't be perfect, but the only way to learn how to do finished work is to do finished work. Give yourself permission to fail.


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    I had this for a while too. In high school I used to be like the kids who would push everything to completion no matter what, and it was clear with the end product that there was a lot of time put into it so it looked "finished", but often not very good because I spent the time on finishing the drawing rather than improving the technical aspects of it as much as I could.

    I became dissatisfied with my work because I could see so many flaws with it, (now in university) so I started sketching more and more so I could just practice technique. I was also influenced by a couple of my art friends, who were great sketchers, had wonderful technique, but themselves struggled with the inability to really finish something to conclusion. I think I learned so much through taking the time to do many sketch-studies from life, but when it came time do doing something finished, it was the hardest struggle. I seriously could not finish something on my own, unless it was coursework, for months (maybe even a year or a little more).

    And, like Dusty already said, I spent so much time focusing on just the technical that I became bored with it. I had trouble doing what attracted me to drawing in the first place - to put to paper (or pixel) these images that are trapped in my mind.

    So I think Dusty's advice is the best. Try to take the pressure off. Just draw something for fun. Draw whatever it is that first got you into drawing for fun. Listen to music, draw the images that come to your mind from it.

    I think you can also try disciplining yourself a little. It was personally really tough for me to get out of that habit of being unable to finish anything, and I had to really make an effort and tell myself I would finish the piece I was working on. It can help to write it down on a piece of paper, that you want to finish a piece or several pieces tomorrow or whenever.

    Oh, another thing that helped me was starting a blog. That gave me motivation to put finished pieces up, and also, since each post dated, not to go too long without putting something relatively "finished" up. Of course, having something finished to post to CA can be a motivational goal, as well.

    You can definitely do it, starting is just the most difficult part. But once you climb over that initial hurdle, you won't be able to stop yourself from wanting to finish your artwork. Finishing a piece is an exhilarating feeling, you will become addicted to it. It's what happened to me.

    Last edited by landylachs; January 26th, 2011 at 07:13 PM. Reason: grammarrrr
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    Elwell I was afraid someone would say this. And I think it's what I needed to hear. I do end up quitting or starting over half way through almost all of my drawings. I think I need to 'just do it' and start knocking out finished work.

    landylachs Thanks for the response! I'm glad that someone is experiencing something along the same lines as me. And it sounds like you've been there and back. Great advice, I'll try your 'writing it down' technique.

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    You're welcome! I was in that rut during my last year of university, I haven't had any trouble finishing anything after I graduated and really focused on doing finished pieces again (a little more than a year ago) So you can do it! Good luck!

    Last edited by landylachs; January 26th, 2011 at 07:26 PM.
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    I smiled when I read Elwell's post because that's pretty much what I was going to add. This hasn't been much of a problem for me with art yet, but I've struggled with this though out my life with other creative endeavors. You never have to look your work square in the eye and judge it if you can always fall back on, "Oh, I haven't finished that yet."

    I haven't fully conquered this fault yet but one thing that has helped me is to remind myself that you judge something as a success or a failure not by the end result but by how much you learned in the attempt. If you can recognize shortcomings, you learned something. If you have the tenacity to let those failures act as guide to your future practice and study, you're going to get better and eventually your end results will begin to live up to your expectations.

    Good luck mate.

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    Something you might try if you haven't already is getting involved in contests and challenges with definite deadlines... That way you're forced to finish something quickly to meet the challenge deadline. If something's due next week, you can't procrastinate or noodle around with things forever - you've just got to get it done, no matter what. The challenges here are good for that, of course.

    Maybe force yourself to try completing one CA challenge every week?

    landylachs' blog idea is good, too. If you establish publicly that you're going to post something once a week, there's pressure to keep it up - if you slack, everybody will notice.

    (Surprised no-one's recommended "Art and Fear" yet... where's Noah?)

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    I agree with QueenGwenevere. Join an activity that doesn't let you flake out. You may be unhappy with the result at the end, but by God it's going to be done.

    Otherwise you'll end up like me in college. You'll wake up in five years and realize you don't have a single thing to sell to someone, or put in your portfolio or stick on your wall. I will say that realizing that you wasted all that time is a great motivator, but it doesn't actually feel very good.

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    I haven’t read through all the posted answers, but I’m sure you’ve gotten some very good advice from what’s been posted.

    My advice-----finish something!! Maybe what your working on is too big or too complex. Start smaller. A good subject to think about may be something like a horse standing in a field ( just an example). The subject would have some degree of difficulty, yet wouldn’t be so complex that it will cause frustration and cause you to quit. Try a render in pencil, the horse only. No b/g and no other objects nearby.

    Remember, if you finish the work you can post it in the finished forum of CA……so, it’s a win/win opportunity!

    Good luck, Bruce

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    mizunodave Hey, thanks. Yeah Elwell is the 'bomb.' I usually do learn from my studies, as unfinished as they may be. I mean, I still do see a slight improvement from the last drawing I've done. I think putting more time into finished pieces would be beneficial though.

    QueenGwenevere That's a great idea, and something I'd love to try. I will give it a shot next week most likely. 6 classes, 4 of them being studio classes, is kicking my ass as far as time management goes.

    vineris Thanks, that's definitely somewhere I don't want to be. I hope things have gotten better for you.

    My biggest problem as of now is time management, I just have so much going on, even finding time to draw at home is rough. How do you guys do it? I quit my job thinking it would give me all the time in the world, but I have a lot on my plate as far as classes go.

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    JUST DOO EEET.

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    I haven't even gotten my Cintiq, but I've been FORCING myself to learn art, and when you force yourself, it's often not because you WANT to. But I do WANT to learn art; I just have to learn to manage my time with other things that are eating into it.

    For example, video games; I LOVE me some games! But if I really want to get better at art, I have to DEDICATE time to learning and practicing it. I think it's this willy-nilly methodology I have with time management which results in why I see so much of myself in you. I'm a perfectionist, but I realize the world (and my works) are not (and will not be) perfect.

    But technique has been the key to my success. As we practice, our technique refines, our comprehension solidifies, and in the end, we get that EUREKA! moment where everything comes together in perfect harmony.

    Having the passion is but the first step. Time management is my next biggest hurdle. As my dad says, "It doesn't matter if your fat, skinny, rich or poor, we all get 24 hours in a day."

    "Doing something half-assed more than once just makes you more of an ass."
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    I'm the same! Especially with what Elwell said!,...except commissions and portraits, have a photo ref. and I'll finish it!
    I have heaps of stuff I want to finish, and from here on, I will give myself permission to fail,....and just do it!,...and try what everybody else said too!

    jNeumann, I wish you all the best!,...and remember, "YES, I can do it!"

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