Bad Starts

Have you ever looked at other artists’ media feeds, and just assumed that everything they touch turns out perfectly?

I have.  And aside from a few magical unicorns for which that may be true, I am pretty sure that all artists suffer from bad starts, and art block.

Mine has been going on a while now….I’m not sure if it’s related to the fact that I’ve had a massive headcold that later turned into a sinus infection for the past three weeks, and has been totally clogging up my brain, but it sure shows in my sketchbooks, which are FULL of bad starts.


The thing about bad starts, is that sometimes all it takes is the beginning of an eyeball for me to realize it’s not worth holding onto.  And then I get discouraged about the bad start.  And feel bad for wasting paper in my awesome sketchbook.  And then I feel like nothing I draw has been turning out right lately.  And I start completely re-thinking my whole style and technique, and everything that has made sense to me in the known universe up until that particular moment, because WHAT AM I DOING I TOTALLY FORGOT HOW TO DRAW.

…And then a decent doodle will show up.  It’s not GREAT, but it at least gets the idea out.


Sometimes I go back to my comfortable spaces, where I feel the best, to try to pull something out from there.   I always let Myla join me, because she always makes it better, and reminds me that it’s not that serious.


And sometimes strange things make for decent doodles…



Sometimes, I re-work an older idea for some inspiration, and try to update it…



And sometimes, outside prompts (like this month’s Inktober suggestions) help get me out of my regular mindset…


And it takes some time, but then things start coming back around eventually.


And soon, it’s not as much of a constant struggle, and starts to come out in an easier, more enjoyable way…


The thing to remember is that it’s part of who you are, when you have a passion like drawing.  Whatever your passion is, you’d still do it if no one ever saw it, right?  You do it because it makes you feel good.  You almost NEED to do it.  It’s not this yearning for a title, it’s not a status, but drawing is like skin to me, it’s just there, and I’m grateful for it.

…So why does my confidence in it waver so much?  If you struggle with the same things, try to remember what I keep telling myself:  It’s not gone forever.  It will come back, and you will be better for it when it does.  If it takes a hundred bad drawings to get back to your groove, then by all means, start sketching!

I’m telling myself that right now.  Hopefully when this stupid flu leaves, it’ll take my art block with it.  Until then, I’ll keep making my bad starts and pushing forward!  🙂

6 responses

  1. Great piece on passion 😊 Gotta love the bad starts… if only as a contrast to finished products!

  2. Loved your post. It is me, a million times over. Every time I see one of your drawings, I’m awe-struck.

    I don’t want to be you, but I just love your work. And, Myla is cute as a bug. ( I’m old, so I get to say that ).

    Cathe Ekas Oregon

  3. Twyla Dawn Weixl | Reply

    Do you know what “bad“ means to you personally? I don’t think there are actually bad drawings or bad starts – finding a more precise word could loosen things up – is it the stiffness or the fearful line or the distractedness or the bored line or the empty head or the lifelessness or feeling disconnected from your initial idea or what is it actually that makes you call it a “bad“ start? Even a so-called bad start carries valuable information about your approach and state of mind. Just take it as information and suspend judgement so there’s more space for the drawing to emerge like a tender little plant that space and time…

  4. As a writer, I can completely identify with this post! I both hate and love my bad starts. Hate them because they slow me down and put me in a confidence sinkhole, but love them because I inevitably learn something from them and that boosts my confidence.

    I also want to tell you that I love your drawing of the sailor with the lizard in his beard. I’m reading a book called The Plover by Brian Doyle. In it, there is a man named Piko who has a beard and while they are visiting an island a young girl puts a lizard in his beard. To me, that’s Piko!

  5. I would be very happy with your bad starts!

  6. Very inspiring to know that you, who are so amazingly talented, have bad starts and wonder if your creativity is gone. A great reminder to all of us to remember that we are always creative!

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