WHAT IT TAKES TO BE AN ARTIST (Part Two)
I received some terrific feedback and comments about Part One. Thanks to all of you who took the time to email me.
In Part One I talked about desire, intention, motivation, passion, confidence and courage. If you missed Part One, check it out on my blog at http://www.davidlimrite.com/
Here we go with What It Takes To Be An Artist (Part Two):
What I am talking about here is belief. You must believe in yourself: your ability, your talent, and your theme or subject matter or concept. Your belief must be strong. You must start from where you are, right now,. Today. Not where you may have been 5 years ago. Not from where you want to be 5 years from now. Believe that you have what it takes to be an artist. Believe in what you have to say or in what you want to communicate. Believe in your ability to visually depict what is most interesting or important to you. Conviction will help you gain and maintain momentum. Momentum is one of the artists strongest allies.
An artist must be honest with themselves. This is a tough one for me sometimes. You work for several hours, days or weeks on a piece. You think it is finished and you like what you have done. You take a look at it again in a few days and you sense that something just isn't right. You attempt to brush off that feeling and set about trying to convince yourself that it is finished and that you love it. However, you know deep down that it is not working. This is where the honesty comes in. You must be honest with yourself about this piece. Hold high standards for yourself and your work. Give in. Admit that it is not right, take a deep breath and dive back into the piece. You may be disappointed at first and angry with yourself and maybe a bit frustrated. You may even want to throw it away. Or worse yet, you may even want to give up on being an artist altogether. However, you dive back into this piece and you re-work it anyway. Do it! It is always worth it. Always! I have never regretted re-working a piece. Honesty is the best policy.
Another word for persistence could be perseverance. As an artist you must be tenacious. You must hold firmly and steadfastly to your work at hand. You must continue to paint in the face of obstacles. We want to paint and yet life goes on: day job, spouse, kids, pets, groceries, laundry, preparing meals, house cleaning, entertaining, etc. This brings up the issue of time which I will discuss in Part Three. We must create "in the middle of things". Persistence also applies to working on an individual piece or series. Never give up on your work. Give your work an opportunity to exist through your tenacity and perseverance.
I don't know about you, but I work best when I am disciplined about when and how I work. A consistent schedule allows me to get in a groove and produce better, more consistent work. I do not set a certain number of hours to work, however, I do try and work at the same time and as many days in a row that I can each week. Currently, for me, this is about 4 to 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. I am working on trying to increase those numbers. You also might want to consider, if you are not already, using the same color palette, the same brushes, the same substrate or surface and the same subject matter for a prolonged period of time. This helps to increase consistency. Consistency creates a prolific and productive artist.
This concept is very similar to persistence, however, endurance has more to do with withstanding hardship or stress. Part of being an artist is receiving bad reviews and harsh critiques, being rejected by juried shows and galleries, creating work that you hate, really struggling with a particular piece, not being able to afford supplies or the phone bill or rent, self doubt, creative blocks, etc. The list could go on and on. We create anyway. Through it all. Because we love it and it is what we were meant to do. There is nothing we would rather be doing. And we endure.
As an artist, you must accept that you have creative work to do. You have a craft to master. You must enter your studio, grow quiet and vanish into your creating. Put everything else aside and get down to the business of painting. Don't fight it. Say yes to your work. Do not could'a, should'a, would'a yourself. The laundry will be there waiting for you when you are ready to deal with it. You would rather be making art right now anyway. Accept it. Also accept where you are right now with respect to your artistic level and talents. Work with what you have right now. Do not wait to get better at painting portraits before you attempt a portrait. Accept where you are and begin.
I would love your comments and feedback. Which of these words or concepts resonate with you and why? Please share below in the comments. I will continue with my list of What It Takes To Be An Artist in Part Three.