Art is a high calling,
Fear is coincidental.
From ‘Art Without Fear’
“..Becoming an artist consists of learning to accept
yourself, which makes your work personal, and in
following your own voice, which makes your work
If you need to get your head strait, read “Art Without Fear”, a book by Bayles and Ortlund. It deals with fear of non-acceptance when it comes to your art. Friend, this was where I was years ago and it resulted in artist’s block, big time.
My breakthrough came when I decided to head for the hills of No. Carolina and take a workshop with Mary Todd Beam who was making a name for herself in the art world. It was as if she gave me permission “play” in art and just copy what I saw. The result was freedom FROM myself. I could use the colors I liked, not what the ‘local’ color really was. I could ramp the colors up until they became a riot of patterns and shapes. I could leave out parts, invent other parts, combine images or paint them in a circular composition. I could do what I wanted…within reason.
Art still needs to have some basic principles to be of excellent quality. Does the word ‘excellent’ scare you? Relax. For instance, you will need to understand composition and how colors react next to each other. YouTube is a great resource for learning art principles. Only don’t copy another’s work.
Copying other artist’s ideas really hurts the creative spirit. It is permissible if you are learning principles from the masters. Artists will actually go to museums to copy a master painting to understand their concepts. However, this is mainly for educational reasons. Beware! The net is filled with images and copying another artwork and making minor changes does not make it YOUR artwork. I constantly had to explain this to my students. They loved to copy art because it made them feel more secure. So, I gave them the 70-30% rule. That meant seventy percent was to be their idea, enough so that the original artist could recognize it as theirs.
Coming back from the North Carolina workshop was my turning point. I began to get accepted into national competitions and even had my work published in Rockport Publisher’s, ‘Best Of’ series. At that point, I was able to paint eight hours a day and was growing my style until funds ran out and I needed to return to teaching art in the public schools to sustain my art career. Most artists have to be realistic and work. You will need to figure out your personal schedule. If you love to create, you will find a way. Just don’t stop.