Crow Star writes; I understand that you can’t draw something once, decide it isn’t very good, and think that you just suck at drawing that one thing. You have to practice. My question is, how long or hard do you work at one thing or medium before you realize it isn’t for you? How can you tell the difference between when you just need to work harder at mastering something and when it just isn’t working? For example, what made you make the actual decision to just not go further with watercolor or what makes you decide you don’t like to draw cars? I see so many things that I find beautiful and so much art that I think “I could do something like that.” that sometimes I wonder what the difference is between could and should?

My advice would be to decide what type of paintings interest you…what medium are those done in? For me, I was in love with marine paintings that were mostly done in acrylics by the artists I admired most. So I decided to start there. I knew they could achieve the look I wanted, so I learned how to use them.

In all the years of teaching, I found that the most important factor in deciding if a student should switch mediums or keep working on improving the one they started with is in how interested they were in that medium. If you started with acrylics and just HATE how fast they dry. You don’t enjoy working with the airbrush to keep them wet, you don’t like having to paint fast (some people HATE the anxiety that can bring)…then I would say switch to oils, colored pencil, or another medium where painting fast due to dry time isn’t an issue. The same could happen with an oil painter who just hated waiting for one layer to dry before moving on. If someone wanted to work faster, I would say switch to acrylics.

I think if there is something specific like that about a medium that you aren’t just frustrated with learning, but actively dislike, causing you to not enjoy painting…then it would be worth trying something new.

That said, keep in mind every medium can take years to get really master and feel totally comfortable with. I think it’s important to remember that and not expect too much too soon. I’ve seen where people give a medium 2 months then decide they aren’t good at it. Well, of COURSE you’re not good at it yet. The medium isn’t the issue, the amount of time you’ve put into (or lack thereof) it is the problem.

For me, with watercolor, I was just too interested in acrylic, colored pencil, graphite and oil paints at the time. I liked the way those mediums layered and watercolor didn’t work the same, so it didn’t interest me. Now, years later I’m interested exploring watercolor pencils, but not as a replacement or instead of the other mediums I love.

As for subject matter, I think that you should paint what interests you most. Painting what you’re passionate about will produce far far better results than painting a subject you don’t care about. In my case cars just do not interest me. They are boring to me so why would I bother? It’s not that I can’t paint them as well as animals…it’s that I don’t like cars. I’m not going to try as hard to produce my best work on something I don’t want to paint. I found over the years that students progressed MUCH faster if they chose what they wanted to paint. Give a 14 year old boy some flowers to draw and see how excited he is about the class.