Something I find myself thinking more often than I really want to admit is “I wish I’d learned this earlier”…often while having to remind myself that I may have not been listening. I was out of college for four years before I really began to take the idea of making a living from doing art seriously again, and I had I had a lot of catching up to do. During that initial time of working to put together some sort of portfolio, I remember thinking that I may become a competent artist, but would never become a really good one. Part of the reason for that was a lack of practice. In order to make good work, I had to do the work.
Often the fastest way to do something is to just do the work. One of the first lessons I needed to learn is this: Don’t mistake procrastination for finding inspiration. Artbooks, blogs and pinterest are great, but they don’t do us any good if we’re not out there creating things too. As a bonus to getting out there and making things is that eventually we’ll be adding to that great pool if inspiration. I started a blog, and a project where I was planning on using my most readily available model, me, to do a series of 100 self portraits. This eventually turned into little autobiographical cartoons. The point is though, that I was making things.
Every day’s a good day when you paint. Sketch, draw and create every day. It doesn’t have to be the Mona Lisa, we can just jot down ideas, write notes, figure out poses and compositions, practice forms and experiment with techniques. Our sketchbooks area great place to work on building a visual vocabulary to draw from. It’s also a great place to warm up our eyes, hands, heart and head before we tackle bigger projects for the day.
Finish projects! Actually, Jake Parker has a great video about this, and he says you need a product, not a project. He makes a great point, because a product is a larger body of creations with a purpose. Sketches and studies are just the beginning, finishing them and putting them to a larger use is how we grow as artists.
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