Monday, February 8, 2010

Heart Your Art: part 3

Simple ideas, but gosh did it take me what seems like a long time to learn them.

Tip #3: Find a class in your art and take it

Take a class in whatever it is that you want to do. Unless you are born with a special talent, it is unrealistic to expect yourself to know how to do what you want to do unless you've been trained. That's just self-torture.

I've always wanted to be creative. I was especially drawn to painting. But I wasn't any good. People told me to take a class, but really, no one was teaching anything I wanted to learn. At least not that I was aware of. Plus I had this thing about doing it myself - call it being stubborn or self-destructive. But, eventually I did find classes that were about what I wanted to learn.

There are so many people offering classes, especially online. That's one of the things that makes this time in history great.

If you have to pay for the class, think of it as an INVESTMENT IN YOU! One class for $55 at the time can seem pricey, but once you break it down into each moment of joyful arting that comes from's pennies! Ask for classes as a gift for Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, your Birthday. That's what I did. Ask others to invest in your future and your happiness. Who knows where you'll take it!

People are also sharing their knowledge freely, like Sharon who has lots of youtube videos. I'm sure there are a ton more! And you can do a search and find pictures and instructions on how to draw whatever you want (I haven't really tested the whatever, cause that's a lot of stuff). I recently learned how to draw a peacock online for free.

Tip #4: The two "P" Words

It is absolutely unrealistic to expect to reach 'perfect' on the 1st try or even the 20th! It's crazy that we actually think that, expect that, and then get upset when it doesn't come true. I have SO been there! Give yourself lots and lots and lots and lots of time to learn. I won't even say the P word (patience). Let's say, "I am a STUDENT and students are allowed time to learn and practice."

Imagine a child in school who has trouble reading, would we yell at him or her? Or would we give extra help, extra time, and encouragement the whole way through? How would you treat your own child or a niece or nephew? Treat yourself as kindly as you'd treat any child.

I talk to myself, the whole way through, if necessary, saying things like: It doesn't have to be perfect. I am still learning. It's okay for me to be where I am right now because the only way I'll get better is if I go through the now part.

If you've never really drawn, you cannot expect your hands to know exactly what to do. A weightlifter doesn't show up on the first day and bench press 300 lbs. They build up to it.

Recently, my 18 year old daughter saw a baby on tv and said, "Is that how they look? With all those rolls of fat?" I said, "Yeah. What do you think, they come out all buff, with muscle tone? Uh, no, they come out fat - it's called baby fat. That's why they can't walk or really do anything, they have no muscle tone and have to build up their strength, learn how to use their body and teach their body how to do what they want." We are exactly the same when we first learn to draw!!

Practice, practice, practice, practice - but even with lots of practice and a year from now when you're making totally heartable art, there will still be times when you'll have to draw and erase and draw and erase and draw and erase.......accept it, that's just how it goes sometimes.

Tip #5: Be an Artist with Attitude!

A positive "Can do" attitude that is! Go in there kicking butt and taking names, even if, at the end you don't. Going in with a negative attitude certainly isn't going to get you believe in yourself, LIE to yourself if you have to.

Tip #6: The other "P" word: Products

Don't fall into the belief that you have to have expensive products or tools to make beautiful art. A lot of it is everything in tip #3 and especially tip #4 and #5. I have a whole bunch of cheap (under a dollar) acrylic paints that I use constantly. I don't see a thing wrong with them. Society has fooled us into some belief that more expensive means better. That isn't always the case.

I add lots of water to my acrylics (sometimes I make a big batch and keep it in old jars). I was using glaze, but honestly, I get the same effect for pretty much free since we have a well, not public water. I use watered down food coloring. That stuff is really cheap! I use the cheap ink pads from AC Moore for $1.00. Perhaps the others are 'better', but I'm happy with what I've got.

I do have some expensive items like Neocolor II Water-soluable wax pastels. But I also found a product at AC Moore for just over $10 (in which case I used a 40% off coupon and got them even cheaper) that works pretty much the same: Karat Aquarell Watercolor Crayons by Staedtler. The only real difference that I see is that the Neocolors that I have (30 pack) has a wider variety of colors. But I bet I can mix the other product and achieve the same colors. I just have to work harder.

Let's talk about another issue with products:

You cannot be afraid to 'waste' products!!!! This one was a biggie for me - perhaps because I was raised in the 80's and conservation was pumped into us every Saturday morning (not that I condone wasteful'ness either). I didn't want to use my 'good' stuff and waste it while I was learning. But I had no idea how to use that stuff. What a Catch 22! Use your products without fear of wasting them. It is the only way to learn.

There were also times when I ruined something because I had a blob of paint that I didn't want to 'waste' (and couldn't put back for whatever reason), which I ended up putting on the painting and ruining all my hard work. Put that blob on a future piece or just let it go.

Tip #7: The Perfect Studio

"I can't make beautiful art until my studio is perfect." or "Until I have a studio." Both of those things are excuses we use to stop ourselves. I've done it. I've seen others do it. We wait for the conditions to be perfect, thinking that the conditions will give us the results we desire. That's a BIG FAT LIE! In reality, the conditions don't produce any results, we produce results. Perhaps the conditions help put us into a certain mood or frame of mind. But if the conditions are not available, are we going to let that keep us frozen? or are we going to press on making art in whatever conditions we get because we want to make art, not be in a studio?

I am lucky enough to have a studio, but I didn't always. At one point, I was being creative in the master bedroom because we didn't have an extra room. I also would never call my studio space perfect. Especially not after I start working. Here's what it looks like now.

I have to step over all that stuff to get to that small little space I sit in on the floor. That's the other thing.....I have no desk, no chair. I work on the floor. I always have. Perhaps one day when I'm an old lady, I won't be able to get off the floor, but I'll deal with that when it arrives.

It looks like Art threw up everywhere. But am I going to take the time today to clean it up and make it perfect? NO! I'm going to make art in that mess. Yup.

Do you ever think that Life (or God or Goddess or The Universe) is testing us to see what we'll do? On purpose not giving us the studio of our dreams, just to see if we want to make art bad enough? Being an Artist is not an 'easy' path. Some people who are not Artists may think so....oh it's all fun and being creative......not all of it. So maybe we get tested to see if we can really hack the life of Artist? I think I believe this cause I feel like I've gotten the stuffing tested out of me and probably still am and still will be in the future.


Do not make art afraid! Don't be overly afraid to "mess it up." One thing I am constantly telling myself is: If I mess it up, I can fix it or make it again.

I've been creating some really lovely stuff, but there is one that I'm not happy with. As far as I'm concerned, I messed it up. In the past, that would have completely derailed me and I'd be watching tv for the next week, being depressed and mad at Life for not giving me any talent! But I'm wiser now.....just put her aside and worked on something else.

I see her every time I go in my studio. She's looking at me. I say, "I see you." And I'll get back to her....I'll work it out.....I'll fix her.....I'll remake her....but the one thing that I'm NOT gonna do is let it bother me.

Poor sweet girl just isn't good enough. But she will be. She's just got some growin' to do.

So, I think that's it. I'm all "talked" out for today. I've got some art to make. Maybe you do too.


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