6 Tips for nuturing your artistic skills

Since getting back into my art after a 10 year hiatus, I’ve been thinking about what has enabled me to do that and to nuture and grow my artistic skills.  There are 6 things that I’ve included in my life that have had a huge impact on where I am today, so I thought I’d share them with you and perhaps they may inspire you too.

Tip 1 – Show up at the easel

In September 2017 I made a commitment to myself to improve my artistic skills.  I knew that to do this I needed to put in the ‘brush time’, so even though I was running a full schedule teaching voice and piano each week, I decided to dedicate every Saturday to make art.

This often meant saying no to other things such as coffee with friends (one of my favourite things to do) and turning up at the easel.  Initially it was really, really difficult to do, but as the weeks went by and I was faithful to turning up at the easel every Saturday, it became easier.  I guess a habit was formed.  They say it takes 28 days to form a new habit!

Also, the more I showed up, my skills improved, and inspiration was more frequent.  I also found this time became a sacred part of my week.  It calmed my busy brain, filled me with a beautiful peace and made me happy.

I still run my music studio, and it’s more important than ever that I turn up each week at my ‘Saturday Easel’ to refresh and nurture my creative heart.

Tip 2 – Shut up the inner critic

If you have perfectionist tendencies like me, this one is crucial!  Over time this voice has got a lot quieter, but initially I was constantly telling it to be quiet!  I would even say it out loud! This was never a one off thing either….it was every few minutes somedays…especially when the painting was entering the ‘ugly stage’!

I think, as my skill and technique have grown, there are more solutions in my toolbox and this enables me to push through those ‘not so perfect’ art times without having to pay much attention to the inner critic.

So do what you need to do to shut up that voice in your head that says your art is awful or a total disaster!  I’ve discovered it speaks only lies.

Tip 3 – Always be curious

I really enjoy experimenting with different art mediums and seeing how they work and what I can do with them.

This curiosity has a positive and negative side to it!  The positive is that it gives me lots of options for creating mixed media pieces and then seeing where it takes me artistically.

On the negative side, I can easily spend way too much money on art supplies!!!

Take what you have on hand and be curious to discover what will happen if you ‘mix this with that’.  Some experiments will surprise you and others will be ” Well, I won’t try that again!”

Tip 4 – Be courageous

In the past couple of years, I’ve discovered that making art is not for the faint-hearted.  It does take courage to start the journey of finding your artistic voice.  I’m still on the journey and think I always will be, and at times I get extremely frustrated trying to find out what my voice is trying to say.

It’s a spiritual process and takes place at a deep inner level where sometimes words are not enough.  Yet to persevere in this inner struggle is where I find my courage is needed most…to keep going.

I must admit I’m a bit notorious for over-thinking things at times, so I do try and stop myself from needing to know the answers to this art journey, and choose to let go and just go with the flow!

Tip 5 – Be bold in your mark making

The day I stopped being timid in my mark making was the day I noticed changes in my art.  There was more depth, expression, soul and energy in my work.

These days I often start off with a piece of charcoal and make fast, bold, scribbly lines and shapes on the blank canvas or piece of paper.

This immediately takes away that horrible feeling of not wanting to make a mess of that beautiful pristine white surface!

While freeing you up, these bold marks also make great under paintings and sometimes can be the inspiration for a painting going in a completely different direction from what you first had in mind.

Tip 6 – Make lots of bad art!

I used to become so discouraged when a piece of art just did not turn out and became a big dark mess.  In the past I’ve been know to rip them up and even burn them!

Two years down the track, I now see my messes as an opportunity to learn from my mistakes.  I also turn the mess into a challenge to see if I can transform it into another piece of art.

I’ve found time and time again, that when I take up the challenge, quite often something magical happens (although not always!) and the art becomes something I never even considered!  I make not like it, but I know that I’ve gained new skills and understanding about process and materials.

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