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Why You’ll Never Be as Good a Painter as You Want to Be


I’ll be honest. If painting really isn’t your thing, and/or you view it as a means to an end, then this wouldn’t be applicable to you. However, if you enjoy painting and are always striving to get better at it, then this article is aimed at you.

What am I talking about? Read on and find out!

The Beginning

When you first learn to paint miniatures you’re happy to put paint to model and get something done. The feeling of pride when you’ve completed a squad, team, unit, etc., is amazing! You never saw yourself painting and there you are, painting tiny figures and creating a cool army.

There’s not much that takes the wind from your sails at this point.

As time goes on you learn about new painting techniques. You learn to start using washes, you begin dry brushing your models, and you’ve even tackled edge highlighting.

You’ve got the basics down and your improved painting is obvious to you now. The stuff you’re painting now is night and day from the early work you did and you’re proud of your accomplishments, as you should be.

The Curse

You find yourself enjoying painting. During work you’re thinking about your current painting projects, or what you’ll be working on next. When you sit down to paint you’re relaxed and in the moment – as it should be.

Suddenly you find yourself wanting to learn more. You’re happy with the painting you’ve done, however, there’s this urge to learn something new and to improve upon what you’ve learned.

Whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram, or Youtube, you’re seeing the work of other painters who create these incredible pieces of art. You’re envious of their talent, but more importantly you want to paint like them. You want to learn what they know so you can do what they do.

You’ve now got the curse and the only cure is more cowbell! OK. Maybe not cowbell.

What am I Talking About?

That was my basic journey through painting and one I figured most could relate to.

Now, what I’m talking about is that desire and drive to become a better painter. I’ve got some tips on that subject, but this is more about that mental state of needing to improve.

It’s all a bit like a hamster wheel when you think about it. The problem with enjoying painting and getting better at it is that there’s always a new goal. Maybe you want to learn to paint NMM or try your hand at some OSL. Whatever it is, there is always something just out of reach that you’re striving for.

I won’t bore you with how I progressed as a painter, but this has been the curse I’ve endured for years – seemingly a lifetime. Every time I set out to learn something new, I eventually do, I get better with that technique (or whatever I learned), and then the urge to learn more kicks in. There has to be something else I can learn now…

This is Why We Will Never Be as Good a Painter as We Want to Be

I really do enjoy painting. While I’m jokingly calling this all a curse (or am I serious?), and it kind of is, it’s a blessing too. The reality is that it’s ambition, pure and simple. That desire to always be better, to never settle for good enough, and to always be looking to the future is an ambitious nature and something that should be nurtured.

With that though is the reality that I will never paint as well as I’d like. There is always going to be something I want to learn, some improvements I know I could make to my technique. Once I learn that new thing I will be off to the next and continuing on an endless quest.

If you’re reading this, then you likely share my feeling and you too will never be as good a painter as you want to be. There is no end to this. We’ve set a goal, an ideal, that as we get closer to it, it just moves further away.

The other part of this curse too is that we often overlook what we can accomplish. In that pursuit of impossible perfection we forget how far we’ve come. Instead of seeing something wonderful we’ve created we instead see the flaws. Our eyes are drawn to the things that didn’t work well or the mistakes we made, rarely ever seeing something for what it is.

Others may view our work and be impressed, even amazed, but we don’t see what they see. Every artist who is passionate about their work knows what I’m talking about.


The idea to write this sprang into my head suddenly, out of nowhere. I was probably thinking subconsciously about what I’m working on now or what I will be very soon.

Either way, I just felt like sharing this.

The takeaway (I hope) is that sometimes you have to enjoy the journey and not see reaching a particular level with painting as a destination.

Try to be less critical of your work and it’s OK to be happy, maybe even impressed, with what you’ve accomplished. If we don’t stop to enjoy what we’re doing, and enjoy the road we’re on, then what’s the point?

Foster that ambition and master it. Let it fuel your desire and passion to learn. It’s a curse, but it’s also what separates us from other painters.

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John Jay
John Jay
5 months ago

Good article Thor! For me it is slightly different. Instead of ‘I will never be as good a painter as I want to be’ it is more ‘I will never be as fast a painter as I want to be’

Michael Pierce
Michael Pierce
5 months ago

Thanks for writing this. I strive to paint better, and this helps motivate me.

Michelle Linder
Michelle Linder
24 days ago

I am professional artist (designer, illustrator, animator and fine artist), and this article is dead on. Artists of all stripes are their own worst critics.