Is it normal to severely regress after practicing intensely for weeks?

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    OK so I know it is normal to hit plateaus and even experience slight "regression" from time to time after intense periods of practice and study. But is it normal to have what seems to be severe regression of skill after practicing and studying several weeks, for hours a day? I jumped back into figure drawing on September 1 and have been hitting it hard every day since then. But tonight, what I produced during my two hour practice session almost seems to be worse than what I was producing when I first started. I mean, like really really bad. Just curious if anyone else has experienced this, and did it get better on its own or did you have to do something to push through? Thanks in advance for any advice/help!

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    Deleted user

    i have hit a few times when I felt i was drawing worse than when i joined and started practicing... but it comes back as soon as i can relax. It seems to be related to my mood and when it happens, i am deeply frustrated and so annoyed that i want to stop it all...

    some moments are really tough...



    I think our ability to produce creative content is in a state of fluctuation by default; meaning that you'll have days where everything just seems to go smoothly without any effort, and other days where you can try three times as hard and still feel like you're getting nowhere. It's something to expect and keep in mind, as people are dynamic and so are our moods and abilities. That by itself isn't alarming, and something we should accept and work through. The important thing isn't that all your content is as good or better than the previous, it's about staying in motion and continuing to practice.

    I also believe that our perspective is by default skewed and biased. When I was in my mid-teens, I drew things I felt were awful and unskilled, as if I unlearned everything I learned. A few years later, I was able to look at my drawings and suddenly they looked totally different to me. As I got older and progressed with my skills, I was able to stop judging myself so harshly and appreciate the things I did well. Sometimes, it's a matter of being too harsh and criticizing yourself without praising the things you did well. So maybe with your next sessions, instead of comparing it to your previous works and judging the things you didn't do so well, try to look at the work as standalone and allow some praise towards the things you did do well!

    That said, breaks are important! Just like how atheletes need to take breaks to allow their muscles to heal and grow, we need to allow ourselves some days off where we try to process what we learned and just rest. It's good to have a daily routine, but if it comes at the expense of your progress, consider adjusting your schedule so that you can take a breather between sessions.


    Sometimes, big jumps forward require unlearning less helpful or outright wrong ideas we had before, and as the brain works on rewiring things are very messy in the interim.

    Sometimes, we are just tired and need to allow ourselves the grace to not be up to our own standard 100% of the time.

    Plase don't worry too much! You are doing okay! :)


    Great advice everyone, thanks so much! I think I started getting too finicky instead of being nice and loose like before, and I think my brain is in chaos as I am unlearning some bad habits. And so true, I shouldn't always compare to previous works but just simply ask myself if I learned anything this time or like any particular detail. Great stuff!


    Hi there!!

    Based off of what youve said, it may also be a case of your growth in arts-based knowledge outpacing your ability to execute what you wish to create/draw at your current skill level.

    I've seen it several times and it is one of the more discouraging challenges I've dealt with artistically.

    Just keep truckin and be patient with yourself.


    Wow that makes TOTAL sense!!!


    Its a L-mode problem. What gets you in "the zone"?

    • Mike Ok edited this post on September 26, 2020 11:20pm.

    Gosh… I don't even know. Not sure if I've ever even been in "the zone". By L mode do you mean left brain?


    Gosh… I don't even know. Not sure if I've ever even been in "the zone". By L mode do you mean left brain?


    yep you could figure draw perfectly with out L-mode, but it sounds like you have the skill and maybe lost a vibe.


    I definitely have noticed the "inner critic" growing ever louder in my practice. I think I just need to do it for fun for a while and not so much trying to squeeze every last drop of learning and practice out of the session.


    Tell me about it. I think it is natural in developing any skill to have plateaus and regressions but with drawing it is also an issue of perception. As you skills progresses your standards also get higher, often at a faster rate than your skill.

    What I have found helpful, is to try not to judge your progress in “real time”. After I do a drawing, I put it aside and don’t look at it critically until at least the next day. I am often surprised about how much better it became overnight.

    The phenomena is called the “artist’s curse”. As you are working on a piece you are looking for what is wrong and trying to make it right. After a while all you can see is the weaknesses.

    No more than once a week, or better, once a month, look back at your earlier work and compare. You will be in a better position to judge your progress and areas to work on. Better yet, find someone knowledgeable to give you an objective critique. You will probably have to pay for this.

    Whatever you do, keep practicing. Good luck!


    "...your standards also get higher, often at a faster rate than your skill."

    THIS. Bane of my existence.


    This whole thread has been a surprisingly delightful and encouraging read.

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