When I was 22 years old, I decided to start a part-time business as a professional painter and my goal for that year was to create a painting’s series as I was told by an established artist, and by many art marketing books, it was the way to be represented by an art gallery.
So, I did. I spent the whole year of 2010 creating my first body of work and that was the beginning of my creative venture.
Did I land into a commercial art gallery?
What I wasn’t told then is that when you start out as an artist, your art is not that good; yet, it is CRUCIAL for you to start somewhere!
My 7 years’ younger self did the best she could do and, if I did let personal fears and other people’s negative opinions stop me then, I could not create the way I do today.
But how exactly do you grow as a visual artist?
Here are 10 tips that have contributed to my growth as a two-dimensional visual artist.
1) Just create. Don’t let perfectionism and fear stop you from even beginning your creative journey. Be kind to yourself as practice makes the master!
2) Learn the foundations. For any art discipline, to become good at it, you first need to learn the basics. Picasso once said “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” For visual artists learning to draw, color theory, and color mixing are crucial for their own long-term artistic success.
3) Learn to attentively observe. Keeping an art journal and sketching what catches your attention is a great way to further develop your eye/hand coordination and technique. A lot of famous artists, along with their sketches, wrote down notes about the colors and other details they observed while drawing their subject matter. This habit allowed these artists to recreate a more developed painting back in their studio, without missing out the important details they experienced while sketching from life. There is nothing wrong in taking a photo as a reference; yet, the point is not to just copy a photo but to put your feelings and experience into your final piece!
4) Master your tools. In my experience, learning all I could about my art materials and tools was crucial for creating faster. Observing how other professional artists work is truly educational and illuminating. There are many art video tutorials that you can check for free online or think about investing into a local art class by an artist whose work you admire.
5) Go to art museums. My favorite teacher-artist became an exceptional painter by reproducing the art painted by the masters. Thus, reproducing other famous artists’ artwork is a great way to learn about composition, use of color and technique.
6) Stick with one medium. Chose a medium of your liking and master it. Once you are great at it, invest your time into another medium and master that one, as well. Don’t stop there, take the time to use new materials so that in the future you can experiment and find your voice.
7) Take art classes. I’ve spent 5 years mastering acrylic painting until I decided to overcome my fear of oil painting by taking a class with an amazing local artist who paints like the old masters. Learning the basics and steps to create a successful painting from him gave me the confidence necessary to further grow as an artist.
8) Show your art and listen to people’s response. Since 2010, I have shown my art at local art guilds, online art groups, alternative spaces, non-profit galleries, art centers, and museums. Even though it’s always nice to hear positive feedback, what truly made me grow as an artist was receiving constructive criticism which ignited a personal desire to improve my technique, my composition and overall approach to painting.
9) Listen to criticism with a grain of salt. Not all criticism is good. In the world, there are always rude people who love to share their misery with the rest of us. These people are not worth your time or energy; thus, do not listen to them, be the bigger person and move on.
10) Don’t compare yourself to other artists. There is nothing more depressing than comparing your art with the artwork made by others. What I’ve learned so far is that it’s way more constructive and realistic to compare my art to the art I created years ago.
It’s amazing to visually see the growth I made as an artist through many years of hard work, curiosity, and perseverance. Furthermore, I look forward to see where this creative path will bring me 10 years from now, and yours!