I encounter a lot of artists who speak ill of their own work and complain about the process of painting, as if art is some kind of abusive partner. When I tell them I don’t hate my own work, they sometimes can’t quite comprehend the idea, and they tell me that one must maintain a merciless critical eye in order to improve.

But if your process is a struggle and you’re embarrassed of the end result – that’s a miserable way to live! If you do not practice feeling joy in your every day relationship with art, the idea that one day you will be good enough to not hate your work is not going to pan out. You are warping your brain to never be able to feel that joy, no matter how much you improve.

It is possible to enjoy the process, to have real love for the end result, and to continue to improve and grow.

To develop a more positive relationship with your work, here are some questions to think about while you’re working and ask yourself after completing each piece:

1. What makes you proud about this painting?

2. Which part of the painting turned out best?

3. What part of the process was the most fun?

4. What problems did you encounter and solve?

5. What part felt easy?

6. What can you do to better prepare for the next challenge?

7. What things related to the fun part would you like to try next?

8. Is the part you find easy actually a skill or interest that others don’t have?