Artists Share Their Most Helpful Tips
A creative routine. We’ve all been there, crumpling up pieces of paper, staring at a menacing, blinking cursor. Fear and doubt are (unfortunately) often part of the creative process.
For a little jolt of inspiration and reassurance, we rounded up some words of wisdom our artists have shared or passed down from teachers and mentors. Enjoy below.
“The best advice I have received is to always be honest in my work. This was part of an ongoing discussion during my time as a college student, and at the time I didn’t fully understand what it meant. I had no reason to think that people were not honest in their work, but as I grew as an artist, I saw examples of when this was not the case. This idea has guided me through many paintings. It taught me to trust myself and my instincts, and if I’ve ever been headed in the wrong direction, it’s set me back.” – Elyce Abrams
“Do as much work as possible, while taking a lot of risks and solving problems accordingly. This advice was accumulated from a few different sources; my favorite teachers reinforced the general approach, and when I came across a list titled Immaculate Heart College Art Department Rules (popularized by John Cage but written by a nun, Sister Corita Kent), I immediately placed it in my study, feeling 98% on board (the minimalist in me cringes at “putting everything away”). I know that this attitude was also inspired by Francoise Gilot’s My Life with Picasso. Picasso was a friend from the workshop!”
“If I spend enough time practicing, my vision comes naturally. For me, practice can equal observation. My eyes are constantly studying (sometimes to the point of obsessive habit). Also, I see my field of vision as its own moving work of art that I can alter by blurring my eyes, cutting with my hands, or noticing color connections. The more time I spend in the studio, the more I carry that artistic look into the rest of my life. The more my daily life reflects art, the more my studio practice reflects my field of vision.” – miller hazelnut
“Squinting. Squinting reduces the amount of light entering your pupils and the amount of information your brain receives to form an image. It’s incredibly helpful for simplifying and then identifying colors, and I do it all the time.” – michael van
“’Go after things with a big bat.’ I was doing a ceramic skills and training course in Ireland, where I had trained as a ceramics professional, and this quote was on the wall next to me. Over the years, I’ve definitely gotten some good advice from a lot of people. A mentor I had for a while always talked about using my own skill set well, and this has been important in my career.” – kevin callaghan
“When I first started painting, I was very insecure and uneasy about what to paint. I came across a Jim Jarmusch quote about originality, which probably saved my life. I realized that every creative is inspired by others and mixes them with their ideas. Take everything you love about other people’s work and make it your own, and eventually, your style will evolve from there.” – Juana Bath
“I always remembered something a teacher in the Netherlands said. It was in Dutch (‘toeval is wat je toevalt’), but it more or less means that coincidences are the things that come to you or fall into your lap, the things you can work with. It helps me keep an open and inquisitive mind.” – mike tracy
Roos van der Vliet
“That must have been the moment when my teacher at art school, named Rinke Nijburg, told me to start painting with acrylics instead of oil paint. Although I didn’t really like her, because she thought that the way she wanted to paint could only be achieved through oil, I did what she told me. And it turned out to be exactly what she needed. This painting did exactly what she wanted! He could paint in several layers, wet and dry, he could paint soft-focus or very sharp, and the colors would stay bright instead of melting until the canvas was a dirty brown (which was always at a certain point and usually get frustrated).”
“Although my choice to paint with acrylic is still questioned sometimes (which annoys me quite a bit), I think it’s the perfect medium for me. What I can do with acrylics, I could never do with oil, with a pencil, or with watercolors or pens. Everyone should find their own perfect medium to work. I am still grateful that my teacher encouraged me to at least try and break my preconceptions.” – Roos van der Vliet
“My professor in my last year of college (days before the graduate program) said, ‘Degrees are like packets of potato chips, everyone has one, it’s what you do with it that’s important.’”- andres landfill
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