What’s Stopping You From Starting a Painting?

Hi friends, it’s a holiday Monday here in Canada, and today I wanted to share a few things I’ve struggled with while learning how to paint. As you may or may not know, I’m self-taught, and I’ve found that there are a few things we all struggle with while we’re learning and practising various painting techniques.

Eventually we get to the point where we want to start a new painting.  Maybe we’ve had some success with a previous project, or maybe we’ve become inspired and decided that “this one will be the one”.  This is the painting that will define us, that we’ll be super proud of.

So we get all geared up to start working on our new masterpiece, and then…we don’t.

We put off getting our art supplies out, or putting that blank canvas on the easel, or walking into our creative space. Something is holding us back, from putting paintbrush to canvas. Have you been in this spot?

Let’s talk about what might be stopping us from starting our new project, and how we can push past our barriers to get creating more art:

starting a painting

Fear of Failure.

Let’s just put this out there.  We’re all thinking it. It’s probably the number one reason anyone delays starting a new artwork: We’re scared it’s going to suck. We’re afraid that we will try out best, but it will end up looking ugly, or unfinished, or simply not what we had pictured in our minds.

It’s okay to feel intimidated sometimes, especially when you’re new to something.  Making art is no different. We have to get past this fear, however, and realise that even if things start to go wrong, we can always paint over our mistakes, or turn the painting into something else, a new direction.  Or we can always paint some gesso over our painting and start all over again.

The truth is, we learn way more from making mistakes than we do getting things right.  So if we encounter a big mistake that ruins our painting, maybe we will learn how to avoid that mistake, and then never make it again.  Redoing a painting is a small price to pay for the value of knowledge and experience we can gain from screwing up. So don’t be afraid! If your painting doesn’t turn out right, you don’t have to show it to anyone 😉 Just paint over it and move on!

Caught Up in Information

Learning everything you can about certain painting techniques is excellent, but there comes a time when we have to stop researching and learning and reading for a while and try it out.  It’s easy to get caught in the continuous circle of thinking “If I just learn a little bit more, then I’ll be confident,” “I just need to see how this is done a few more time then I can try.”  What we end up doing is simply watching and reading without putting the techniques to practice.  Learning how to mix colours is one thing, but taking the paints out and trying it yourself is another.  You’ll remember and learn much more from trying the techniques out than you will from continuously reading about them.

So make the decision to start your painting and get some progress done on it before going back to reading tutorials and watching videos. These resources will help you more once you start applying them yourself.

Aiming Too Large

Another common barrier is planning too detailed, large, or intricate painting.  If you’re a beginner, then setting a painting goal that’s beyond your current skill level can really turn on you.  Maybe you’re just grasping the painting techniques of blending or colour mixing. Trying to paint a large bouquet of flowers may seem like a fun idea, and it may be a goal of yours, but jumping into that right away might not be the best idea.

What ends up happening is we set up huge expectations for ourselves, then become intimidated and not want to start it at all.  Planing out a large bouquet painting requires hours of painting, and may be too large of a task for you right now.  So you get frustrated and decide to not attempt the painting at all.

Instead, try to paint a single flower, against a simple one-colour background. You can sketch it out and decide what colours you want to use.  Maybe a yellow daisy against a blue background? Choosing a much simpler painting subject can motivate you and empower you.  You’ll start thinking, “Yeah, I can do this!” instead of “…can I even do this?!”  See the difference? The confident thoughts are the ones that will get you onto that canvas.


So that’s it for now, guys! I hope this post has inspired you and helped you if you’ve been stuck in that limbo between thinking about starting a new painting and actually doing it. I’ve been caught in this mental state many times, but pushing through it and making the art you want to make is very rewarding.

Leave me a comment below if you’ve felt this way, and what you did to overcome it! Thanks for stopping by, and till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3



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  1. Omgosh! Where have you been? I’ve only painted once before and have looked at thousands of tutorials but the way you explain things is just awesome!!! I’ve learned more from you then those others before! Thanks so much!

    • Hi Lee, thanks so much for your comments. I’m glad you found me and that my site is helpful to you! I’m not sure which video you’re referring to, but all of the art supplies I use can be found at you local art/craft store like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, or online at various online stores like Blick Art Materials, Amazon, or other online art stores.

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