5 Ways to be a better artist

  1. Practice. No one ever achieves true perfection. That would make life dull. Practice your skills knowing that each chisel mark, each brush stroke, each line leads to your growth as an artist.
  2. Experiment. Try a different medium, a different size, or a different subject. Take chances, learn from your mistakes, and build on your successes.
  3. Listen to the critics. While we all need cheerleaders, we learn from those who disagree with us. This is why it’s good to escape from your safe circle of artist-friends every so often. If someone says they don’t like something in your work, ask why. Ask what you could do differently. That doesn’t mean you’re going to change directions. It just means that you learn to see your art from another’s eyes.
  4. Read. Read about art. If you have favorite artists, study their careers in depth to see how they achieved their success. Read about your materials and discover how to make the most of them as you make them your own.
  5. Look at a lot of art. Look at it again. Spend time with it and figure out why you like what you do. (Tune into the Art Marketing Action newsletter tomorrow when I show you how to pick apart an exhibition.)

How do you improve on your art?

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8 comments to 5 Ways to be a better artist

  • Great post Allison! Number 1 is my favorite and also the best advice I can give along with “do not be afraid to have fun and play, even if it means not ending with an imperfect work.” I’m a predominantly digital artist, and I don’t even want to try to count the number of files I have where my original intent was nothing more than playing around with different brushes and techniques. The final result for these files is a mish-mash of any and everything, but they are invaluable to me and progressing my work and techniques. On the more traditional route, I also keep canvases and numerous sketchbooks where I’ve done the exact same as I do with my digital playing, only with pencils, inks, watercolors and acrylics.

  • Dear Alyson, I improve my art through teaching. I do demonstrations and workshops highlighting my mixed media/watercolor techniques. It has pushed me to breakdown the steps of how I work. I listen to questions from my participants. Their points of view often clarifies my own understanding of my work.Over time, as my work has evolved, these questions and sharing information have been the mirror in which I’ve been able to see my work more objectively and then act on the interesting discoveries. Helen http://pineshorestudio.blogspot.com

  • Yup, play and practice! And “take chances” would be my #1 advice. Throw on things just because, follow a gut feeling even if you’re not sure where it will go, launch yourself into a new layer or colour. My weeks are scattered with scared declarations of “oh my god why am I doing this?”, followed by some brushstrokes, followed by “oooh, interesting. Now that I can work with.” :)

  • I’d add another item to the list: 6. Talk about your art. I’ve found that when I talk to people about my work, partly-formed ideas crystallize at the moment I articulate them. I’ve come to much better understand what I’m doing and why I do it simply by talking about it. Barbara J Carter http://www.barbarajcarter.com

  • Good advice. I have to say in my case the single most important has been: “Look at a lot of art.” and “Experiment”. Especially the looking at other artists works has taught me the most.

  • The third item is the most difficult. Seems to me that there is a real balancing act to be done in trying to see your own work through someone elses eyes – not sure that that is possible. The risk is highest in young developing talents to sell out their artistic soul to please someone elses idea of “what it should be”. Also, it becomes an issue of whose opinion you can respect and want to allow influencing your work – it can be a dangerous thing to any artist!

  • Helen: Teaching! Yes! “If you want to learn to do something, teach it.” Barbara: Yea! I love that you mentioned talking about art. Do you think talking makes you change something in the doing, though? Dawid, Tina, Gerald, and Chris: Thanks for your input and affirmations.

  • babs

    questioning yourself and editing accordingly