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  • Writer's picturecarolyn land

Be a Better Artist

Success doesn’t come from painting one picture.  It results from taking a certain definite line of action”.                Georgia O’Keeffe

Some are born with a natural talent, others need to tap into their “creative child” and work at developing their creative ability to its fullest extent. But, in the end they both can end up being excellent artists. It all depends on how much effort one puts into it.  How often have we heard someone say; he or she has so much talent but he or she is wasting it?  Its not always talent that counts, but the effort put forth to develop what we have. The only way to become a better artist is to practice, practice, practice, and be a sharp observer.

First: We need to find something we feel passionate about, something that makes us want to create art.  For some people it is the human condition, for some it is nature, for others it is as simple as color, shape, and line. Then we need to observe these things which move us and instill in us strong feelings. Study them, take pictures, write details about them, sketch out ideas.

Second: We need a certain amount of organization and discipline: a place to work, supplies that are ready, and a designated time to practice.  We can’t get better painting one day a week.

Third: We need to educate ourselves. We need to learn to embrace our mistakes and not be discouraged by them.  Each mistake, each failure, needs to become a learning experience.  Instead of throwing our failed effort away and quitting, we should be asking; “How can I make this better”?  Then we need to zero in on our weaknesses, the things we need to learn, and go about learning how to do them. I look at each failure as a puzzle that needs solving.  If it is still not what satisfies me, and I have worked on it as long as possible, I don’t throw it away. I put it in the closet to look at 6 months later. Have I grown?   Can I see now what it needs? Can I rework it to make it more successful? I have a lot of puzzles in my closet to solve.

Alternative Surface painting by Florida artist Carolyn Land

Moon Rise  Alternative Surface

Fourth: To be a better painter we need to paint what we love, don’t follow trends. If we follow trends and paint like other people, we lose our uniqueness and our ability to really put who we are into our work. When we paint what we love and it’s a strong painting, it will resonate with a viewer.  Most people buy paintings that speak to them.  They connect with the story we tell.  If we copy or paint like someone else or copy a style just because it it’s the new and trendy thing, we are not putting ourselves into it.  It is an academic exercise and I have found there is a fine balance between learning to do something and making it uniquely yours.

In September I am starting a class on this subject…Be a Better Artist.  We will address these issues, learn to critique our own work with the support of others, who want to develop their unique creative style, and help each other grow.

“Art is creative for the sake of realization, not for amusement: for transfiguration, not for the sake of play.  It is the quest of our self that drives us along the eternal and never-ending journey we must all make”.  Max Beckmann

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