Have you ever been in a place where you done couple paintings, despite all the praise and admiration you've received, you are just not happy about them? Moreover, you are frustrated because you knew you can do better, at least you think you can. The painting in your mind looks much better than what you produced? I feel like I am in that stage right now. At first I thought I've lost my touch. But after looking back to my previous works, I realized that my works are getting better in quality. It's just that I'm entering another stage as an artist. I call this stage - The growing pain stage
It's a simple concept really. Everyone starts off at the beginner stage. At the beginning of that stage you are struggling, learning, and exploring. Although it requires works and struggles, you will probably enjoy as you progress and see new and better result. As you move up and reach towards the end of the beginner's stage, you starting to feel comfortable and able to do a painting at your level with ease. You then have a choice: to move up, or stay where you are. There is no wrong choice here, many people are perfectly happy to stay at their level and seeing no need to advance as this is not their focus. However let's just say you decide to move up to the next level. You are starting to compare your work with the artists at the next level, teaching the people at your past level, and starting to challenge yourself. You start to feel you are incompetent and not able to produce good works. You are frustrated with lack of progress, and you don't want your works to look like beginner's work anymore. You are entering the growing pain stage again!
Painting after painting, you've done it. You are at the top of the armature level. Your work starting to look more and more like a professional's work. You feel confident and comfortable with what you're doing. And you decide to progress again, enters the growing pain stage of the next level, and the cycle continues.
I broke it down to just 4 levels for illustration purpose. But this is often not so clear cut in real life. Much like growing in real life, you enter the next level and stage gradually. Often before you know it. Being a better artist is something that I always strive for. However, I don't always know when I am hitting the next level and entering the next stage. I'm definitely in a growing pain stage lately. Looking at my work objectively, I believe my works are getting better. But subjectively, my vision is further ahead. Which is why I get frustrated with my result.
When you are in a growing pain stage, don't give up! This is a good thing, you are moving to the next level. Keep pushing through by learning and practicing. I wrote a blog post very long time ago about confidence boosts. I mentioned to look at your old works and compare with yourself. You might be surprise how much you have progress and grow. Giving yourself some confidence and keep going!