Artist’s Confession: I Rarely Appreciate My Work at First

Grayscale pencil and charcoal artwork by Sara A. Noe


Recently, I shared a confession from an author’s perspective. I wrote about the eternal state of guilt many writers feel — guilt for not writing when they feel like they should be, and guilt for writing, which doesn’t feel like “real” work to sustain a business.

My business has two sides that are sometimes related, sometimes not. In addition to being a fantasy author, I’m also an artist. I’ve created my own book covers, hand-drawn maps, symbols, character sketches, custom emojis, and other artwork related to the Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms series.

But I also create drawings that aren’t tied to the books at all. When I set up my booth at markets, festivals, conventions, et cetera, I almost always have two tables. One is centered around the books; the other is a display of my art.

Author/Artist Sara A. Noë cosplaying as a character from her book series behind her art table at the Chesterton European Market in Indiana.

Every month, I draw a new piece of art that will be featured in my monthly newsletter. Sometimes, the artwork joins my inventory lineup as an art print that I sell. Other times, it doesn’t.

My Level 2 and 3 Patreon subscribers can watch me draw the monthly artwork in exclusive timelapse videos. I also often share insights about challenges I faced and what inspired me to draw a particular subject matter.

But what I don’t share is how I feel about a piece when it’s done. And now, it’s confession time.

I’m rarely 100% happy with the art when I finish. I often need several weeks or even months before I can appreciate it.

I’ll admit — I’m sometimes reluctant to share the finished piece because it doesn’t feel like it’s good enough. I’m extremely nitpicky when it comes to my art, and I hyperfixate on the tiny little details I didn’t get quite right, even if they’re practically unnoticeable to other people. This was definitely the case with two of my most popular art pieces, “Dandy Bee” and “Dahlia Dragonfly.”

"Dandy Bee" artwork of a bee and dandelion by Sara A. Noe"Dahlia Dragonfly" pencil sketch by Sara A. Noe

People instantly fell in love with these two when I first released them, and these sketches are still among my top sellers today. I sell these prints on artboards, canvases, mouse pads, notecards, postcards, puzzles, keychains, necklaces, and earrings.

But I didn’t love them at first. Insects were not a subject matter that came naturally to me, and I didn’t have experience drawing bees or dragonflies, so both pieces were a challenge. I didn’t feel like I’d successfully captured the image that was in my head and I was trying to translate onto the page.

When I was finished, I couldn’t see past the parts I wished I could tweak a little more, even as I was receiving praise from friends, fans, and strangers alike.

"Death by Venom" skeleton hand holding a black widow spider, pencil drawing art by Sara A. Noe

I’ve found that this is a common occurrence with most of my art. It could be a symptom of imposter syndrome that affects many creatives. Or perhaps it’s a neurodivergent perfectionism issue.

(Probably a combination of both.)

Over time, I eventually forget about the mistakes I’d fixated on during and right after the creation, or they become less impactful. But the more frequently I see someone making a connection with a particular art piece (I believe that art should “speak” to people, and I personally don’t buy anything that doesn’t speak to me), the more the art grows on me even though I’m the creator. I’m able to step back and appreciate the piece as a whole instead of zeroing in on the tiniest details that bothered me.

As I focus on new drawings (and the new flaws, of course), my frustration with the older ones fades. Within a few months, I’ve accepted the art. But it takes time for me to reach that stage.

It’s an interesting conundrum, to say the least. Such is the life of an artist.

Interested in seeing more of my art and supporting my business?

Patreon membership tiers for Sara A. Noe
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I'm an award-winning fantasy author, artist, and photographer from La Porte, Indiana. My poetry, short fiction, and memoir works have been featured in various anthologies and journals since 2005, and several of my poems are available in the Indiana Poetry Archives. The first three novels in my Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms series have received awards from Literary Titan.

After some time working as a freelance writer, I was shocked by how many website articles are actually written by paid "ghost writers" but published under the byline of a different author. It was a jolt seeing my articles presented as if they were written by a high-profile CEO or an industry expert with decades of experience. I'll be honest; it felt slimy and dishonest. I had none of the credentials readers assumed the author of the article actually had. Ghost writing is a perfectly legal, astonishingly common practice, and now, AI has entered the playing field to further muddy the waters. It's hard to trust who (or what) actually wrote the content you'll read online these days.

That's not the case here at On The Cobblestone Road. I do not and never will pay a ghost writer, then slap my name on their work as if I'd written it. This website is 100% authentic. No outsourcing. No ghost writing. No AI-generated content. It's just me... as it should be.

If you would like to support my work, check out the Support The Creator page for more information. Thank you for finding my website! 🖤