The Five Practices of Developing Yourself As An Artist.
I was reflecting recently on my ten year journey as an artist.
In November 2010 I did my first oil painting.
By November 2020, a decade later, I had well and truly built a successful art business around my art that had kept me employed full time for a number of years.
In thinking about this I asked what where some of the key things that I did to develop myself as an artist that I could share with you here today.
I identified 5 practices that I engaged in on a consistent and regular basis over the journey of the last five years. Without these 5 practices I doubt I would be doing what I am today and having the impact that I have through the Learn To Paint Academy.
So here are the five practices. They are in no particular order. I view each of them as being equally important.
Practice #1 – Inspiration
Inspiration is important for us artist.
The problem is inspiration is not a constant force. It comes and goes over time. There will be times when we feel highly inspired, and times when we have a total lack of inspiration.
For those of endeavouring to develop ourselves as artists, and perhaps even build an art business around our art, we can not have variable levels of inspiration.
We need to remain inspired to keep moving forward.
So developing inspiration is an on-going practice for successful artists.
For me I build inspiration in a number of ways:
There are a number of other things I do regularly as part of my inspiration practice but you get the idea.
The key is not to wait for inspiration to show up.
You have to take responsibility for it and work on developing it.
Practice #2 – Studio
Having a dedicated space for a studio is vital to progressing as an artist.
If you don’t currently have a studio space then find a closet in your house, or corner of the garage and clear it out. Hang a sign up saying “Studio” and treat it like your sacred studio space.
That’s what I did when I started out. A literally started in a storage closet. Today I have a 120m2 factory as a studio but I probably wouldn’t have made it here if it wasn’t for that first closet.
When you have a dedicated studio you have a place to go to do your work. A place to create in. A place to have all of your art supplies and tools of your trade ready and waiting for you.
Tell your family and friends that your studio space is sacred and that when you are in the studio you are there to create and work, and that they should honour your time and space.
Then dedicate yourself to turning up at your studio.
Set regular times if you need to. Block out studio time in your calendar.
Developing a practise around your studio will help you start to step into the identity of an artist.
Practice #3 – Study
From the day I started to this day and probably for the rest of my journey as an artist I will be a student first and foremost.
Yes I teach others (mostly as I have a passion for empowering and inspiring creatives).
The thing I have found is the more I study about art, and learning to paint, the more I realise there is to study.The body of knowledge to study is not finite. Its expansive.
When I started out I had such a strong desire to learn, and no money, that I had to sell my much loved guitars to fund my studies.
I purchased books, hundreds of DVD’s and went to workshops where ever I could.
I became a serious student and remain so today.
So one of my key practices is that of study. I set aside time each week to study and learn from those who went before me.
What should you study? What should you focus on in your study practise?
These are the basics.
As my first mentor Jim Rohn says “there are usually about a half a dozen basics that account for 80% of the differene in your results!”
Learning to paint is no different.
The fundamentals you would be wise to study are:
1/ Composition & Design
3/ Colour & Colour Mixing
4/ Brushes & Brushwork
6/ Drawing & Observational skills
Don’t just study them so you have an intellectual understanding of them. Study them until they show up in the form of improved paintings. And then continue to study them in depth.
Practice #4 – Practice
There is no substitute for pushing paint around a surface if you want to get good.
You can’t avoid the need to paint a lot, paint often, and paint consistently over time.
The great artist Kevin McPherson says that if you paint 1,000 paintings in three years you will become a professional artist. How true.
Make a practise of studying the fundamentals of good painting, and then make a practise of regular practise.
Brush miles is essential.
Practice #5 – Inner
Finally and perhaps the most important is the practise of working on your inner self.
Your mindset is one of the key determining factors in the successes or failures you will have in life in any area of your life.
Becoming a great artist requires you have an empowered mindset.
For many of us life beats us down through its various twists and turns, events and challenges.
We can wind up with a mindset that is disempowering before we know it.
This can hold you back.
So one of the most important things to make a regular practise is the practise of working on developing a more empowering mindset.
Work on developing self belief.
Become an empowered human being with a positive, optimistic outlook on life.
These are the five art practices I engaged in regularly over the last decade and I have no doubt I will continue with in the next decade to come.
I offer them to you as ideas to contemplate, adopt into your own art journey, and adapt to suit yourself as you see fit.
The journey to fully express and develop yourself as an artist is not an easy one, but it is one hundred percent possible if your heart is true, your mind empowered, and your soul inspired.
Most important though is to enjoy the journey
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