Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Success is a Lonely Walk we must take by Ourselves

"Siesta"  8 x 10 original drawing (reminds me of Key West!)
Being an artist is a lonely pursuit. Remembering what you know and putting it into practice requires self-motivation, skill and continued study. I’ve known artists who are professional students. They constantly take classes, but never quite get beyond the stage of exploration. They think that the next great class will surely make the difference between success and failure and in their ability to paint that perfect painting. Sadly, it never happens.

Only you can develop your brush strokes and style. You may learn value and color, you may understand another person’s technique and recommendations, but unless you continually practice your brush strokes and develop your own process for painting, you’ll be stuck.

"The Neptunes -- Octoband"
Plugging away and working while everyone else is at play is difficult. In order to climb, you must put in the time. It is by doing that we learn. We can read every book on the planet, and take all the classes available to us, but if we don’t put into practice what we have learned, our dreams of success remain in limbo.

"The Neptunes -- Trumpeteers"
The biggest hurdle for most artists is finding time and space. Don’t wait until all your ducks are in a row. Don’t put off painting until you have the ideal space or allocated chunks of time. Delays are excuses. They keep us from making commitments.

Robert Genn’s twice-weekly newsletter is being done by his daughter, Sara, in his absence. Sara shared this gem a few days ago:

“Here's my version of English author and illustrator Neil Gaiman's Eight Rules for Writing. I've modified them for painters:

1. Paint.

2. Put your first stroke down and move on with another stroke. Work your strokes and let your strokes work you.
3. Stop the painting before you think you should.
4. Put your painting aside and start another painting.

5. Always keep in mind that you are your own best critic.

6. Perfection in painting is probably not possible. Excellence in painting is for people who appreciate the poetry of your soul.
7. Your style is what you're doing academically wrong. Radicalize yourself -- you only have one life to show you've got style.

8. You need to paint with enough assurance and confidence to know you can do whatever you like. So paint your story and make painting your life. Be honest with yourself about your progress. Always try to do a better job than you did the day before. I'm not sure there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”

And finally another quote from Gaiman’s book: "I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes," says Gaiman, "Because if you're making mistakes... you're Doing Something."

That’s all we can really do, friends. We can keep on making mistakes, and sometimes we may get lucky. (Below: work in progress "Fuchsia Fantastic #1, #2)