Today, I want to share 4 tips for beginner artists. These tips are some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years, but that I wish I’d known from the start.
You see, I’ve been an artist for a long time. Long enough to have learned many lessons that come only with experience.
Long enough to also know that there are many things I could have learned from other artists had I known where to find those artists (I started before the days of the internet.)
Most of those tips have less to do with art than with attitude. They’re the sorts of things we all need to be reminded of periodically.
4 Tips for Beginner Artists
1. Be prepared to persevere.
I don’t know about you, but when I started painting, I thought all I had to do was paint the portraits and get them in front of people. They’d sell themselves and they’d sell themselves quickly. I’d be an overnight success.
The selling part is a discussion for another time (if you’re interested in that, let me know. There’s lots to share.)
The overnight part? Let’s just say I’ve been painting and drawing for over forty years and I’m still waiting for the overnight success.
Making art is not easy, even when you love what you’re doing. Building a livelihood around it is even less easy. Even when it’s your passion.
The real secret to success is getting up one more time than you’re knocked down, plain and simple. The world doesn’t owe you a living. Neither do the people around you. You may be the most talented artist since Rembrandt, but even he persevered.
Keep going. Be persistent.
2. Develop a thick skin.
From the first drawing you draw to the last, there will be critics. You will have to learn to deal with people who criticize your work, your methods, your marketing—probably even you. They are as much a fact of life as the sun rising in the east. Learn not to internalize it.
How? Ah, that’s the hard part, isn’t it.
The thing I did that helped me most in this area was deciding with myself what I wanted to paint, how I wanted to paint, and for whom I wanted to paint.
Once those things were settled in my own mind, the criticisms that came because I was painting horses or painting them too realistically or painting for clients didn’t matter. Sure, they still sometimes stung—especially those delivered by artists whose work I admired but whose vision was different than mine. But they didn’t sting as much.
You may need to make the same decisions.
Then go forward with confidence.
3. Learn to learn from criticism.
Some of the criticism may be warranted, so you can’t automatically discard it all. When an artist whose vision was similar to mine commented negatively on something I’d done, I paid more attention. Maybe they were right.
If a client had a complaint, I definitely paid attention. After all, they were paying me for my artistic skill. If they weren’t happy, neither was I.
But I still had to learn to be gracious.
I also had to learn to analyze those criticisms at face value and glean from them the information that helped me. Especially the comments that improved my skills in dealing with people (and let’s face it, most of us like nothing better than to shut ourselves up in our studios and make art.) Toward that end, I asked myself the following questions:
In other words, I looked for ways to learn, and to improve my artistic craft.
That’s what you should do, too, Make every legitimate criticism an opportunity to learn and grow.
Ignore the spewing, hostile, and rude comments and criticisms.
4. Draw every day.
Don’t fall into the habit of thinking you need to wait for inspiration to strike before you make art.
Don’t accept the lie that you need large chunks of time, either.
I’ve lived long enough to have lived through both attitudes. I now know they are not true.
The best way to be an artist is to be an artist.
Whether you feel like it or not. Whether you have the time or not.
Even if it’s just a few minutes to sketch on a napkin, make use of it. Nothing is more discouraging than waking up one morning and realizing it’s been a year since the last time you drew something.
Those are My Top 4 Tips for Beginner Artists
These are only four of the lessons I’ve learned over the years and which I wished I’d known at the start.
But they are the four most important in my opinion.
I will be sharing more tips over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.
And if you’re a long-time artist and would like to share lessons you’ve learned, leave your tips in the comments below.
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