The Importance of Practice

When I started writing this post this morning I realized that I begin many of my blog posts, "I've been thinking..." And that's what I do. I think about things for a while, ponder, then share them here with you.

Lately I've been thinking about practice. For a while I've been wanting to get back into the habit of working in my sketchbook everyday and/or creating little paintings each day. Although I work on art just about every day of the week, it can be hard to fit that sort of practice into my days.

I'd think about it and tell myself that I should start doing it again, but thinking doesn't make it happen. There's always something else more important.

The truth is, practice is very important, too.

Last week I finally sat down and created this little painting:

watercolor, daily painting, botanical painting, violas, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The first attempt didn't work. I was trying out some new paper and the paint didn't spread right. So I started again.

I've had a lot of failed paintings this year. Maybe the reason for this is that I'm a bit out of practice. When you paint every day, working through the beginning, middle and end of a painting, you get into the flow, the rhythm. You become adept at fixing mistakes. You get the feel of the paint and the water and the paper. You're more flexible dealing with the different brands and types of paper. Plus, when you create little paintings each day without the pressure of success, there's less fear, less frustration and fewer failures. And if I painting doesn't work out, it's not important.

Having a bit of detachment from the outcome makes creating easier. That's true for just about every kind of creating.

sketchbook, drawing, sketching, micron pen, watercolor, paint palette, mixing paint, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I know some of us have a hard time creating in our sketchbooks and become frustrated if the page we create isn't pretty enough. We've chatted about it in the Sketchbook Conversations posts. It's so easy to become frustrated when we compare our work to an outside (imaginary) ideal. The pressure to share our work (and have it perfect enough to share) can be limiting and frustrating as well. (Take a look at Kate Wood's recent Instagram post where she talks about her commitment to share each of her drawings, even the bad ones. You might remember Kate's Sketchbook Conversations post from earlier this year).

Each of us has to decide what is right for us. What's right for me, won't necessarily be right for you. What's right for you, won't necessarily be right for me. That's the way it should be. It's so easy to feel the pressure of what "everyone else" is doing. Don't. Do what's right for you. Always.

My words for the year are Create and Nourish. Re-committing to a light and easy practice of daily painting and drawing fits perfectly with those words.

studio, watercolor, art studio, botanical painting, studio cat, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

What makes it light and easy? I know that I won't always be able to fit a painting into my day. And that's ok. I know that not every painting will be a success. And that's ok, too. I'm equally comfortable sharing what I create and deciding not to share what I create (there's something wonderful about keeping sketchbook pages all to myself). The choice is always up to me.

watercolor, botanical watercolor, sketching, art practice, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

We'll see how it goes. With everything, there will be ebbs and flows.

painting, watercolor, daily paintings, sketching, botanical watercolor, practice, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The trick, always, is to let go and ride those ebbs and flows without judgement, without frustration. We'll se how that goes, too.

How about you? What have you been working on lately?

*Quin looks so innocent here. Just moments earlier he stomped all over my paint palette and slurped my painting water. I moved the painting out of his reach just in time. When he wants attention, it doesn't matter what I'm doing. He's a good teacher.


  1. Create and nourish are lovely words to practice your art by Anne. Creating is very nourishing! Beautiful delicate artwork as usual but I guess that isn't always the case - as you say things don't always work out how you wanted them to! Quin does look so innocent - who'd have thought that he tried to trash your studio? I think paw prints could be the latest craze! :)

    1. Thank you, Simone.

      Quin and Pepper sure like to be involved in everything. They "help" Matthias with his work, too. At least we can laugh about it!

  2. No doubt what you find as a flaw would actually look pretty darn good to someone else. We are often just too critical of ourselves. I create for the joy of it and nothing else. As Simone said, it is a nourishing create ... and to do so without judgment or expectation. :) Have a wonderful Wednesday!

    1. I guess perspective is everything and we are all too critical of ourselves at times.

      Creating for the joy of it, without judgement or expectation, is the way to go. But when we have a specific vision it's hard to separate ourselves from judgement and expectation. It's a balance and it's good to mix in some play as well as "work".

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! Have a wonderful week!

  3. Another great post! Thank You Anne!
    I can be very critical of each bouquet I create. I also can be hard on myself for garden mistakes, thinking I should "know better!"

    1. Thank you, Carla. Glad you enjoyed the post. Why are we so hard on ourselves? I guess the only way to improve is to have a bit of criticism and to strive to always be better. We also need to remember to be gentle with that criticism.

      Hope you have a wonderful week!


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