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How to Improve Your Art in 2022

If you follow me on Instagram, you might already know that I love listening to podcasts. At the beginning of this year, I chanced upon an episode that made so much sense to me and gave me so much encouragement that I knew I just had to share with you all.

In this particular episode, the host interviewed Angela Duckworth, psychologist and author of the New York Times bestseller Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. In the book (and the interview), Duckworth explains her years of work in trying to find out the one characteristic that would determine how well a person does in life. She studied school students, military personnel, teachers, salespeople and came to the conclusion that the one characteristic that emerged as a significant predictor of success, much more than talent, was ‘GRIT’.

Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint.

Duckworth goes on to clarify that not all people are equally talented, but ‘talent’ is something we cannot change. The more we focus on these aspects of us which are not in our hands, the less we work on the aspects that ARE in our control - the hours we put into any work, the doggedness of our pursuit, the sheer hard work we choose to do (or not).

And this concept really struck me as life-changing. I see so many artists on social media who simply dazzle me with their sheer talent. My inner critic immediately tells me that I shouldn’t even aspire to their level of art; I am just not talented enough. But what I conveniently ignore in the moment, and what we don’t see through the filtered lens of the camera, is the many years of untiring hard work that these artists have put in to get to this place.

Even from my personal experience, I know that there’s nothing that can match the results of consistent hard work. I’ve created art EVERY DAY for the last 5 years, except when I was on vacation or sick, and here’s what it has led me to:

The image on the left is from about 4 years ago. While it's a perfectly fine painting, it is not yet what I was aspiring to - botanical art. The image on the right is of a drawing I am currently working on. This work is botanically accurate and is much closer to the kind of work I aspire to.

So, if you’ve been feeling despondent about your art and wondering if you’re good enough, here is what you need to know: It doesn’t matter whether you have the talent or not. All you need to do is delve deep within yourself and channel your passion for art into gritty hard work.

You can listen to this particular episode here or check out the shorter TED Talk by Angela Duckworth.

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