How To Fight The Fear Of Making Mistakes

When I began painting I was stingy. I was so afraid of making mistakes and wasting paint or a canvas that I barely used my supplies. I didn’t know it at the time, but I wasn’t really saving anything by being so frugal with my supplies. I was actually holding myself back from the freedom, creative ideas, and fun that comes rushing in when you let go of the fear of wasting your supplies!

One thing that really helped me get over this fear was using some supplies that were inexpensive. There are some things that you can skimp on and it won’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. You don’t have to spend a fortune on your supplies to create amazing art! When you aren’t afraid to use your supplies (or waste them) you will be more liberal with your creative ideas. Practice is the ONLY thing that is going to help you create better art and you will make mistakes. You will make bad art. You will have to keep trying over and over again. BUT…if you are practicing on a piece of cardboard and not a canvas that was $50 you’ll be able to calm down and really focus on the making of the art.


So let’s find some ways to save on supplies so that you can calmly practice and not freak out when you do make a mistake (notice I said when not if).


  • Mixed Media Sketchbooks

Practicing in a sketchbook is so helpful. You can allow yourself space to make mistakes, document your progress, and give yourself freedom to play! This is my favorite mixed media sketchbook.  The paper in this book is thick enough to hold acrylic paint. It can be used for collage work, drawing, or even oils if you gesso it first.

  • Multi-packs of Paint Brushes

Paint brushes come in a huge variety of price ranges. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on brushes to get something that will work well for you. If you get an inexpensive multi-pack of paint brushes like this one, you’ll be able to play with different ones and find what you like best.

  • Found Items

Then there’s found items…by “found” I mean things you find around your house, in your barn, in the garbage can! Cardboard, scrap paper, pieces of wood, old cabinet doors, ceiling fan blades….whatever you have on hand can work and the list is endless! The more creative your found item is, the more fun you may have with painting on it!

  • Mark Making Tools

In my supply cart right now I have mark making tools…used to make marks that are different and unique. I have a fork, a paint scraper, a brayer, bubble wrap, sand paper, and ink pens…just to name a few. Get creative with your tools and don’t limit yourself to things that you buy in the art supply store.


Finding ways to skimp on your supplies is one way to help you fight the fear of making mistakes. After all, when it’s just a piece of cardboard or just an old cabinet door it won’t matter very much if you have to chalk it up to a practice piece or toss it out.

I actually recommend that you skimp on everything but paint. Using good quality paints will keep you from being frustrated as you learn and help you progress faster in your artistic skills. But you don’t have to buy the most expensive paint to get good quality pigments either. Student grade acrylic paint is beautiful and affordable.

Start there.

BUT remember…

Paint is only wasted when it stays in the tube.

I hope this will help you fight the fear of making mistakes and get you motivated to find some unusual items to add to your supply box.


(This post includes affiliate links.)

6 Responses

  1. Lucynda Smith

    Thank you for your suggestions!!

    • Amanda Hilburn

      Hi Lucynda!
      I’m glad you found it helpful!

  2. Dianne Zillioux

    Thank you for this I do hesitate and leave my work room because I’m afraid I’ll mess it up with spoiled work soooo I don’t get practice because of my fear of mistakes and get frustrated
    I signed up for a good course and haven’t followed it yet. Going so slow because I want it to be good. Really waiting to find the right moment is a waste of time I now know !!
    Thank you Amanda !!

    • Amanda Hilburn

      I’m glad this helped! Now get started painting LOL 🙂

  3. Yvonne

    Good advice