When you feel your paintings fall short…take heart!

If you’re fairly new to painting and you find yourself looking at your work with disappointment, constantly finding fault, then this video should give you heart.

It’s author Ira Glass speaking about the process of becoming skilled at storytelling, but we could apply it just as well to learning to paint.

His key message is that to develop your skills, you must PRODUCE work. A volume of work. It won’t all be great. But it will teach you a lot. And you need to take the attitude that, to be disappointed in what you produce in the early stages is simply a part of the process, and is born of the fact you have a good eye for how you want things to be!

One of my goals for The School was for it to help people to just start PRODUCING. To provide people learning with a bit of structure to help them sit down, get their paints out and GO FOR IT.

I’d be interested to know from School members if they find it helps with that?

Please do let me know.

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53 Comments

  1. gail santos on August 11, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    I LOVE Ira Glass!!! Where I live we are lucky to have his program every weekend on Public Radio Broadcasting (PBS) I always have the radio on when I am painting and his program is one I make time to listen to. I am so glad you sent this. I know in my own work I look for the areas in the painting where “I got it”, the paint and brush strokes worked in the way I wanted. Maybe not for the whole painting but the more the more I produce the more of these “got it” areas I find.

  2. Sandie Barrie on August 11, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    This is so true! I am getting ready finally to start painting. Anna, I have been quietly following your school for awhile and look forward to get started on painting. By this time next week, I will have something to upload! Have a fun day!!

  3. Donna Guy on August 11, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Oh, yes! Anna, your tutorials and teaching methods are simply excellent, but when my membership lapsed for a couple of months I found I also missed your newsletters and the community. You offer such fantastic support through practical and useful encouragement and you take time to engender a sense of inclusiveness and mutual support in the school community. You have an excellent team as well. Membership has been a very positive all around.

  4. Tim Norton on August 11, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    I have faith that wha Ira Glass shared is true because I have seen improvement in my art. That improvement is a direct result of what I have learned from following along with Anna over the past year. I have completed almost every tutorial. However, without Anna’s help I find that I’m still in the struggling phase. What I produce is much better than a year ago, but it is still not as good as what I produce when following along with Anna. I’m glad that you shared this brief inspirational clip. I will continue to struggle on in hope that one day I will meet my own expectations.

    • Anna Mason on August 14, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      I’m sure you will Tim, keep at it! The fact that you see some improvement shows you are growing in your skills, just give it some more time.

  5. Wendy Robinson on August 11, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    Interesting video. It came at a time when I am feeling pretty low. It’s made me think and I will definitely get my paints out again. Thank you Anna.

  6. Roberta Dianne on August 11, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Anna, I am having so much fun learning to paint, which is in part learning to see. Your tutorials are helpful, many times I say to myself,…..”why are we doing it this way? I don’t see how this is going to turn out” but by the time I’m finished I can see how we got there, and I’m pleased with the results. The paintings I’ve attempted would not have turned out well if I tried it on my own without your guidance. I love the step by step color mixing and shaping with tone and hue. I am in the phase of painting as much as I can so that, like Ira says, eventually what I’m painting will match my creative expectations.

  7. Karen Cook on August 11, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    The video is absolutely awesome and so inspiring as is your school!!! Youve given me the tools/process to paint subjects that i’ve never been able to do on my own. Thank you!!

  8. Yvonne Lilley on August 11, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    I started drawing and painting about twenty years’ ago and the first ten years I was just not satisfied with anything I was doing Everything seemed amateurish until I joined a group and one of the ladies there spent a lot of time just giving me snippets of advice but it was enough for me to want to improve my pictures and improve them I did. I love botanical art but know I will never make a professional artist. So what! I love what I do and because of classes like Anna’s it is much easier now than it used to be to get advice that is not given in a didactic way and with a great deal of empathy for the student.

  9. Janet D'Ambrosio on August 11, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Dear Anna,

    I have been following your tutorials for a few months now. I am so afraid to post anything I do. I feel like everyone else has talent. Those ladies you talk to, other students who have been painting for years, they all look wonderful. Some even suggesting pictures that you love and then you post them.

    I am not like that. I have many talents and many more endeavors. I would like to be a fine water colorist. All my children love my drawings, mostly faces…..but I am waiting to try a “colored” face. I did try one and it looked like a joke. I think doing your botanicals helps me the most with painting.

    Do I dare get more active and post my picture and post my crummy attempts at water color? I know you will say “Yes, this is what it is all about”. But it is not about embarrassment!

    I guess I am looking to you for some real encouragement.

    Thank you for your time. I hope your “team” lets you read this because it really goes deep in my soul.

    Warm Regards,

    Janet D’Ambrosio

    • Sherry on August 13, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      I haven’t posted mine either but I’m going to now! Everyone is so nice with lots of helpful advice and encouragement. So, don’t feel alone about not posting your stuff, I have felt the same way too but constructive critism always helps.

  10. Kyunghee Johnson on November 16, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    I had no motivation these days. This video helps me to keep painting and produce work. Thank you Anna for posting this video and that helping me.

  11. Catherine Martin on February 21, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    This is SO SO true! Thank you for posting it!

  12. Kathy Howard on February 21, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    Yes, this can apply to anything creative!

  13. Judy Peeler on February 21, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    Thank you, Anna. I have a box of paintings I keep adding to; but I keep striving for something I can’t quite achieve. People tell me my work is good; but it isn’t the goal I’m after. So I keep painting. I guess that’s what I’m supposed to do.

  14. Kerry Heller on February 21, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you Anna. I really needed to hear those words of inspiration from Ira Glass. I’m a beginner and I’m not giving up. Thanks for being you and congratulations on your new family member.

  15. Debra McDevitt on February 21, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    I’m very new to painting and tend to get de-morivaled a lot. It was good to hear plug on is the key! Needed this today!

  16. Ellen Creighton on February 21, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    In my heart I know what Ira Glass is saying is true, yet in reality I need to hear it when the beautiful painting I see and paint in my head doesn’t flow through to paper. Very disappointing. After six months of drawing, painting and watching U-Tube tutorials (mostly the latter), I do see progress, however, I’m inpatient. Thank you for the reminder. I do enjoy your magnificent work Anna Mason.

  17. Frances White on February 21, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    The video was inspiring and it is really about painting all the time practice, practice never give up and one will reach the stage of I am happy with what I have done, although we never stop learning.

  18. Vera A on February 21, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    Having just made myself go to my ‘drop in art class’ and got home , opened my email and read the inspiring video. It’s just what I need today having not picked up.a brush in months ! You only improve by doing it. and I have a piece of art started today that I MUST now finish …..no matter how it turns out . I’ve lacked motivation for some time , so wish me luck and thanks for the video

  19. Charlene on February 21, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    This video is so absolutely true. I am a mixed media artist and in the first 2 years of making art, it was not selling. But I kept at it. As I kept creating art, it changed and morphed into a style that is very unique and began selling! But I had to work at it. Same is true with watercolors. It does not come naturally, I have to work very hard at it. I am sticking with it.

  20. Marcia Eckert on February 21, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    Hi Anna! No, I’m not disappointed at all. I have bought several classes when the prices were low to have them on hand when I can get to them. I’ve stashed away just a very special few and yours was one of them. Thank you for making them affordable to me on my meager retirement income. I am very picky about classes I purchase.

  21. Donna Gustina on February 21, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    Thank you all for sharing! I’ve learned so much! Anna, when you introduced the video, my heart dropped because most of the time I am blocked from benefitting because I am a Deaf artist and videos that are not captioned keep me from accessing wonderful information. This was a creative way to present the message visually through printed word. Thank you!

  22. Thomas Van Driel on February 21, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    Anna, it was good of you to send me this video. I know it was partly motivated by a desire to “re”enroll a former student, but that’s okay. I remember fondly my brief sojourn as an Anna Mason School “student”. Your tutorials are great! I think that I will always be my own worst critic, and I’m okay with that too, because it continues to raise up the goal of constant improvement. It’s the journey that matters. The destination is always ahead.
    I wish you the best in your pregnancy and delivery. I think motherhood is one of the greatest works of art.

    Thomas

  23. Kathleen Howard on February 21, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    Thank you for this. I’ve been doing watercolor for over a year now, and it becomes very disheartening to fail so miserably so many times.. And yes my taste is fabulous! So I expect way too much. 🙂 This brief video was a big help with the issue. Thanks for posting. . And best wishes for your health issues. May all progress well for you.
    Kathleen

  24. Jennifer Willson on February 21, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    I was a very active member of this wonderful school for a couple of years. I only stopped membership as my iPad was not compatible with any of the videos when the system was updated. I have not stopped painting and now do commission’s for dog portrait. Only through constant painting I found what was right for me. I’m learning all the time, esp when I take on the challenge of a dog that I’m sure i can’t do…….and I surprise myself.
    Thank you Anna for giving me the confidence. All best wishes to you always. X

  25. Joyce hooper on February 21, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Anna, I found your pear tutorial very helpful. I am still working on a poinsettia but it does not come close to the one I saw you painted. I have been painting for several years and like the realistic appearance. I paint about 2 hours a week and can see an improvement since I started painted. I look at other artists work online for ideas but I try to paint from photos as much as possible. I think your work will be very helpful, Good luck with the baby

  26. Karen Owens on February 21, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    Thankyou, this is a great help.

  27. Victoria Bishop on February 21, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    thank you very much for sharing with us and this video and for support.I was definitely needed to hear it this week more than usually.

  28. Anne on February 21, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Anna , I love the video.I have a hard time focusing right now,I was diagnosed whit stage 4 breast cancer but I know it’s going to help me focusing on something more positive,I need to breed in and start.Love your work.Anne

  29. Julie Davies on February 21, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    I would love to join the online classes, I started painting 5 months ago having had the tools as a gift. I so enjoy it and really want to improve but without an income having retired before my pension I’m just not financially able. GB pensions

  30. Sue Visker on February 21, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    Yes Anna I believe the wY you set up your classes does encourage us to work at it. I agree with the video you shared. I think it comes down to these questions. Do you really want to improve and are you willing to put the time into it. Every successful artist has told me the same, practice everyday in some way doesn’t have to be big or a masterpiece. Just quit watching, or gathering new products. Just Do it
    Finding friends to join you every week on a certain day really helps

  31. Guest on February 21, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    Got a vertigo from that jumping letters…

  32. Graham Wood on February 21, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    As my Mum used to say; “Practice makes perfect!”

  33. Carol Pulvino on February 21, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    I can relate to Ira’s comments. I feel stuck. I want to go forward but need more help .

  34. Cindy on February 21, 2019 at 11:17 pm

    Anna, this really struck a cord with me. …life, 4 kids, all kinds of things kept me from painting for a good 20 years, when I started back I was not very confident, to say the least. Needless to say, I had a lot of paintings I considered a failure, but then a friend who’s been painting for years told me not to throw them away but to put them somewhere and come back to them after I learned more, practiced more, took classes, read more and honed my skills…..was she ever right. Now I can take one out, look at it and know what I did wrong. Sometimes I can fix it, sometimes I just chalk it up to a learning experience….but NEVER will I quit!! I’ve been at it for about 2 years now and continue to grow and learn, which I love. I recently discovered you and your work…..amazing. You inspire me not to quit and keep learning…..thank you.

  35. gillian on February 22, 2019 at 12:01 am

    I could listen but watching màde me DIZZY! I only paint for fun and relaxation so doesn’t really apply to me anyway

  36. Penny Taylor on February 22, 2019 at 1:56 am

    I LOVE Ira Glass & he’s sooo right. Thanks so much for sharing. And have a happy pregnancy. 😉

  37. Rose on February 22, 2019 at 2:50 am

    Thank you for posting the video. It was a much needed message at the perfect time! It’s words ring true to me! Thanks!!!

  38. Cheryl Sands on February 22, 2019 at 6:20 am

    Thankyou for that video. Came at the perfect time. Thanks for sharing. All the best with baby Anna.

  39. Louise Couper on February 22, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Hi Anna – lucky you: six months pregnant! I would love to be back there again … It’s such a special time. Worrying too, definitely. I don’t think I ever stopped and your hormones balancing themselves is probably a rollercoaster. But the body is amazing and will do its job to maintain itself. Helped, of course, if we’re able to connect to the healing within us. As those videos showed – thank you for them; just what I needed today – art is who we are, that part that seldom gets enough space. I wish I’d heard that message about beginners sooner (but never too late) because I have a piece of artwork that is barely started and I’ve been afraid to touch it in months, as I feel I’ve already made a mess of it. And mess is what I have to accept will happen over and over. Oh, but it’s hard …

  40. Mique on February 22, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Thank you, just what I needed …

  41. Learner on February 22, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    Heya Anna! Long time no see!;) Just wanted to say… Thank you for reaching out and thanks for the timely video. Btw your introduction message to videos like this is invaluable. The words “PRODUCE work” clicked with me and also helped when watching the vid and trying to follow the swirling letters…haha But it’s a true and encouraging message!
    As always, I admire your honesty, strength and bravery – your stories are inspiring. The School is a great resource for anyone willing to learn and put in some time. Oh and, like someone else said here, Please enjoy your pregnancy – it’s an experience some wish had agaIn and some never had… Congrats to you! May God continue to bless you and your family.
    Hugs,
    Learner

  42. Peter Lowe on February 23, 2019 at 9:27 am

    This video is so true. I started painting again when I retired about three years ago. At school it was my best subject by far. When I started painting by early efforts were ok with friends thinking they were great! I copied things from magazine and joined a weekly class. However I shave become disappointed with my work because I can see the mistakes others don’t seem to notice. The result is that I have virtually stopped painting am almost afraid to start a new painting for fear of it not meeting my expectations. How pathetic is this?

  43. Kathy on February 26, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Thank you for this Anna! I love Ira Glass as well! I was so happy to read that you and your baby are doing well! I’ve been meaning to read your book, this was a fantastic motivator! We have had so little natural daylight this winter, but it seems to be returning…..time to get out my paints! Keep resting, I know how you feel! Enjoy everything that each day brings, this is such a special time in your life! I hope you keep us posted!

  44. Magda on February 26, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    Thank you Anna! Got this video at the right time!
    Beginner:)

  45. Nat on February 27, 2019 at 1:48 am

    Thank you so much And hope you and your baby are find ☺️

  46. Sharon Roy on March 1, 2019 at 11:31 pm

    Thanks for posting this message from Ira Glass. I find that the quality of my work varies as if in waves. I’ll go along for days, or weeks and almost everything is magic. And then, out of the blue, I hit a dry spell—no inspiration—images are overworked—-composition lacking focus. It is difficult to keep going in this case, but because I have a habit of nearly daily drawing, I DO keep going and things start to improve again.

  47. polga on March 2, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Hi Anna,
    Thanks again for finding a way to encourage your students. I just can’t say enough good things about your site and your school. As someone who did not think they had an once of artistic ability, your site has shown me that a good teacher can accomplish miracles. That’s what I consider my works of art as…. a miracle. As a beginner painter and a struggling writer, your video was apropos. Of course, I knew all that, but it is nice to hear it and to help motivate.

  48. Sara Anderson on June 6, 2019 at 4:12 am

    Yes, this makes sense I feel a disappointed over a painting after I promised myself I wouldn’t be disappointed and just move forward. I am definitely improving but realistically if there’s great paintings in my future there will be some frisbees too.

  49. Tina Dells on January 24, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    Thank you, this is just what I needed to hear right now as a beginner with your school. I so look forward to the day when I find that this technique is not so hard and that I am not so tired when completing a tutorial. I know it will happen, because I am so determined!

  50. Mama Mia on July 23, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    Fantastic post, thank you! As a beginner who started 3 months ago I also feel this. Happy to be “normal” . But it is the joy of painting that matters. Put in the time and eventually…. our work will match our Killer taste!

  51. […] that your technical skills are just taking time to catch up with your creative vision. Check out this post for advice on working through this […]

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