Anyone else?



  • The advice has been given to " be okay " with your work going through an ugly phase. This can be a real struggle for me. Does anyone else feel the same?


  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @Pinky if I feel I hit the ugly place on a piece, I do push through and finish. However I can tell the difference between those pieces and the ones I feel never hit that ugly phase.


  • SVS OG

    In every watercolor painting I’ve done I’ve hit the ugly stage. I’ve only been painting in watercolor for a year so some of my paintings never got out of the ugly stage but as I’ve improved I’ve gotten better at recognizing when it really is a stage. What’s helped me is keeping a photo diary of each stage of a painting so I can go back and see what I thought were the ugly stages but also see the finished products which weren’t ugly. Just this past week I did a watercolor sketch that was so bad I almost tore it out of my sketch book but the next day decided to ink it and turn it into a line and wash and to my surprise, I now love it. In other words, I absolutely feel your pain!



  • @Chip-Valecek @Pinky Someone told me yesterday that creativity is having the freedom to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.


  • Pro SVS OG

    I feel this happens in cycles for me, a couple of pieces I am happy with and then one that hits the trash. This used to really, really, bother me, then I once heard someone say "give yourself permission to create crap." That made me feel better and the up side is at least I am creating and growing while I go through this "ugly" phase.



  • It's a struggle, but my work always feels ugly at some point. I sketch and figure out my value structure in oil and there is always a point where the nose is crooked or the values don't match yet and everything is still amorphous and blobby. I always want to stop and burn it and 90% of the time if I keep going it turns around.



  • @Pinky I find it mentally taxing to work through the ugly phase in each of my illustrations, but have also learnt in recent times that all of the rewards are on the other side. It is only when I'd slowly trained myself to push through that barrier and stick it out till the end of the process of illustrating a piece that I realised that I'm better off for pushing through instead of stopping.

    If there is a little voice in your head telling you while you're working on your art, "there is no point in trying any further," "it's going to look like crap no matter what," or something else along those lines, you're not alone! The only way I've ever managed to cut that destructive voice down to size is by going ahead and doing the thing I feel resistant to doing. So if the ugly phase feels uncomfortable, I'm going to expose myself to it as many times as possible. I hope that helps some!



  • It’s VERY important you have ugly work. Otherwise you don’t know when your work isnt ugly. Use this opportunity to look at this piece and ask yourself “ok it’s ugly, why is it ugly where where are the mistakes?” Then redo it with those mistakes corrected. It’s something Jake Will and Lee all talked about at one point or another on their podcast too. You need to allow yourself to make mistakes and not get attached to a piece because you have the skills and ability to learn and try again.


  • Pro

    @Pinky I think the more you draw, the more experience you gain, the more okay you become with that phase. It's no longer as discouraging or crippling when you know from experience what it will look like it the end, when you can visualize the next steps. Even when the piece isn't quite going the way you like, when you have gained the experience to figure out where it's going wrong and you have the tools to fix it, it's no longer a struggle. It's just another step of the process 🙂



  • All of my pieces go through the ugly stage right away. I've purposefully created a method for my paintings where I get it out of the way early on and it's a lot easier to push through it that way.



  • All my work is ugly until I work to make it nicer. Im not ok with having ugly work. But im also not ok with taking it personally.



  • Yes absolutely. Maybe it also relates to "mastery" or at least competence with both an art medium and an art process we have chosen. I feel most comfortable with the ugly look if I have done the process in a familiar medium and I know where the piece is currently in development. I personally don't feel like I have a chosen medium or mediums that I know well enough yet; maybe once I learn more, the skills will carry me through the ugly phase more easily. But there will always be drafting / sketching ideas in order to explore all the options or compositions, and that part will never need to look good or finished.



  • No I dont feel OK I usually end up throwing in the rubbish such a waste of paper,but I am trying to work through and finish some now and I am really surprised to see they do get better with more work .



  • Oh man, I always have the 'ugly phase', so I really hate showing off my work during that time. I sometimes even get upset about it, and think that it wont get much better.

    The trick for me is to just... not stop. Keep at it, and eventually you'll work it into something that you think is 'okay'... or even 'wow! this is better than I thought it'd be!'. I sometimes have a difficult time going back to a piece that I left in the 'ugly phase', so I tend to keep at it until there is at least one element of the piece I'm at least 'okay' with.

    Maybe that could help for you?


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