Quiet Your Inner Critic


“The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it.” – Bob Ross


Sometimes the hardest part of the creative process is getting started. We have so many other things to do, and our fears subconsciously influence our quick decision-making. If you focus on JOY and don’t worry about results, you will always be in a good place. Immersing yourself in a study of nature’s beauty will nourish your soul.


How to quiet your inner negative voice


Mouse & Artichoke by Wendy Hollender


I have no talent.

Tell this voice to sit down, be quiet, and listen up! Art is NOT about “talent.” Art is about the joy in creating and sharing ourselves with each other. “Talented” artists are those who practice the most. So warm up, have fun, and brighten the world with your creations!

Allow yourself the luxury of not being an expert; let yourself be a beginner. Ask questions, be open to learning, and release your expectations of yourself. Practice patience!


Process of Pam Thompson‘s Milkweed Composition


I don’t want to ruin my paper.

Question this thought. What constitutes “ruin”? Artist and Draw Botanical instructor, Pam Thompson, says, “Every drawing has an ugly stage. KEEP GOING!”

If you do “mess up,” you’re not “wasting” paper if you’re enjoying yourself and learning from your “mistakes” (or as painter, Bob Ross, called them, “happy little accidents”). “Happy little accidents” often spark wonderful additions to compositions. Did your tomato subject accidentally stain your paper with its juices? Go with it! Add watercolor and colored pencil to turn your “mistake” into a slice or wedge of tomato. These kinds of additions can really make your final composition special.

Sometimes resources have to be sacrificed for the sake of joy and education. If you’re really worried about the cost of “wasting” resources, I encourage you to start your sketch on scrap paper and to move to higher quality paper when you are satisfied with your sketch’s composition. If you make an irreversible error on your high quality paper, keep that sheet around to use as scrap paper for future projects to sketch light source thumbnails and test out color swatches.


Daylily in The Mingled Flower Garden at Frederic Church’s Olana by Wendy Hollender


I will never be as good as someone else.

Take a deep breath. Inhale enjoyment. Exhale competition. Because each of us has our own unique perspectives, no one else is experiencing the world the same way you are, in the same location, at the same time. If you approach your painting from this place of authenticity, (especially if you are nature journaling or drawing a botanical subject growing in your local area) and you ENJOY your creative process, it doesn’t matter at all how “good” someone else might be. No matter how great they are, they can never share YOUR view of the world, just as you can never share theirs. 

We’re all stars in the sky, and when more of us are shining, the brighter the world becomes. So don’t worry if other stars are shining brighter; just shine your own light and add joy to the world.


Hickory by Wendy Hollender


I get overwhelmed by the big, blank page.

Start simple, and create small, “bite-sized” drawings! I find that working on small drawings is a great way to stay motivated, knowing you only have to commit a small amount of time each day. Working on a smaller page helps avoid feelings of overwhelm or not having enough time to complete a drawing. To relieve stress and anxiety, engage all 5 of your senses in your drawing.


A Walk in Transylvania by Wendy Hollender


So next time your inner critic tries to interject, kindly invite that negative voice to take a seat. Instead, let your inner positive voice remind yourself that art is for everyone (including YOU). If you’re looking for a fast and easy way to get started with botanical drawing, our new Quick Guide, Nature Journaling in a Nutshell, details fundamental art concepts including color theory, as well as tips for observational drawing various natural subjects (including flowers, animals, and landscapes).

We are often our harshest critics, so it’s important to get help from others. You’ll find that their feedback will be (mostly) positive! Nothing quiets a critic quite like a compliment. Let our caring community support you in believing in yourself.

Want community support AND botanical drawing instructional video lessons? Join one of our Online CoursesThe Practice of Botanical Drawing or Botanical Basics.

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