Struggling for 8 Years - Advice?

This is my first post. I didn’t even know these forums existed, so this is great. I’ve been drawing for 8 years. I have had some breaks in between though.

I struggled with the falcon and the water that I gave up towards the end because I wasn’t getting it. And it’s always that way when I complete my artwork. I’ve bought the best paper thinking it was the paper. I bought different pencils, charcoal, different watercolors, etc. thinking it was the supplies. I’ve even traced the outline to fill in with my value and I still somehow seem to mess that up. I’ve watched countless videos on shape/form, value, etc. I understand the theory behind this but I seem to fail in the output.

When you look at this piece that I completed here, what do you see wrong? Keep in mind I am comparing this to my artwork from 8 years ago. There is some improvement but not much. I’ve spent a lot of time and money on different videos/instructors, plus supplies. I’ve got to be doing something wrong. I am open to any advice. Thanks.


I don’t see anything wrong with it. What do you see wrong with it is more important.

  1. Define what you really want your art to be.
  2. Don’t copy anyone else except as a tool to learn.
  3. Are your current art endeavors doing what you want them to do.
    Why not?
  4. What are your weakness in art and deliberately eliminate them with practice and exploration.

My biggest problems are patience enough to put in the time and effort and defining what I actually want to do verses what I think others want me to do.

One last thing, it is never the material or at least rarely. I have seen very interesting art done with colored sand on the ground and no tools, as well as great drawings with ink and a stick.
Best Regards


I’m thinking you are super hard on yourself. Your drawing is great. I can see shape, form, and value. I can see you have dark values, mid values and lighter values. I don’t see anything wrong. In my humble opinion, I think you’re letting your brain dictate what the water is supposed to look like. If anything all it needs is to darken the shadows values on the air bubbles and shadows within the water bubbling, as well as the shadows seen through the water already in the glass. I can relate to that since it’s been a struggle for me. (Letting go of what I think things should look like, as opposed to what shapes and values are present in the reference). The reason I think that, is because you captured the darker values on the bottle, water pouring out, and glass rim, but kept the lighter values on what I mentioned before.
Don’t be afraid to darken values even in clear water.

Sonia (been there, done that, still doing it sometimes)

Hello Michelle,
Welcome to our community. What I like about the community is that there is no judgement. The artist here will be honest and give their opinion of what they think of a piece and those with more experience will guide and help you to accomplish your goals. I have been at this for only two years, still learning, still exploring. I like the piece. My first impression was that areas could be shaded more, the cast shadow, areas around the bubbles.
Great job and I look forward to seeing more of your art.

Well - I think that looks amazing! I would be very happy if I could produce such a wonderful sketch of water. I think you have great values and it certainly is very realistic. As other said, don’t be afraid to go darker! Keep sharing your art please!

Hello @Michelle , I think you did great. Many times we are our own worst critiques. I think you have already received great advice here. It seems like increasing the values is a theme here in the the previous responses. I would increase some darks especially right against the brightest highlights. This would help increase the contrast and give a little more pop in a couple of areas. I think the bottle and glass for that fact were near perfect. The water ripples, bubbles and water stream could be improved with more contrast. The ripples and bubbles could get darker. The water stream could have a couple of brighter areas to enhance the contrast there. Keep source of lighting in mind when enhancing these to ensure that finished product still makes sense. If you are unsure of how dark you need to go, try using a physical value scale and maybe even a small set of white cards with a small hole in each one. Put one over area in question, the other over the value scale. That way you can focus on only the value seen in the two holes and make that comparison.

I think your drawing is great. I offered nit picky critiques as a way for you to really hone in on things that could be tweaked if you don’t feel your drawing is where YOU want it to be. Please note that if you did tweak your drawing, it wouldn’t appear to take very much to really have you seeing it in a much different way.

Hope this helps some.


Hi Michelle. - like others have stated, I think you are being very hard on yourself. I really like this drawing. I did not do this lesson and I haven’t gone to see what Matt drew either to compare. I suppose you could put yours and Matt’s side by side to compare but that doesn’t make yours wrong and his right. I bet if you put this aside, kept drawing, and the come back in 6 months you would like it more. Don’t stress yourself. Just look for the fun and joy in the process.

Terri Robichon