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How To Screw Up A Drawing

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The easiest and most certain way to screw up a drawing, or painting or sculpture is to never create it at all.

What happens when we let our doubts and insecurities take over? Art cannot live or thrive.

What if I never created it to begin with or if we throw it away or crumple it up and toss it in the corner?

What prevents you from creating the work you are meant to make?

One of the big things that stopped me cold in my tracks and caused the death of so many sculptures and was a rigid set of rules and expectations. I had some ideas about art that were really intense.

What is your rule for art?
What does art have to be or do for you to consider it artwork? Read More

The Valley Of The Suck

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We have all reached points in making art where it feels like nothing is working. We get frustrated with the art we are trying to create and we feel defeated. I call this The Valley of the Suck.

The Valley of the Suck is the familiar and miserable moment when everything caves in and you feel like you can’t get anything right.

Hope is lost.

Artists everywhere experience this. I used to think it was part of the process and that you just had to trudge through this step by step. I thought it was a right of passage and part of the artist’s journey and in my own experience, after some wretched period of time, eventually something would snap I would gradually make my way out of it and start making progress again.

It doesn’t have to be that way. I now understand that the Valley of the Suck is caused by very real problems that we face as artists.

On one side is ability. You are facing a very real problem. You don’t understand how to work with these new paints or you don’t understand the anatomy, something just isn’t going right. The arm looks funny. The head is enormous. That color is all wrong. We realize that we are lacking some essential knowledge or the skill. If we don’t come up against gaps in knowledge and skills how will we know what we need to learn? How will we work out the next steps in our training and in our minds? This wall is essential for growth.

The other wall is shame. It’s based on the emotion that stops us in our tracks and fills us with doubt. We feel embarrassment about not having this ability and leads us to question our worthiness to make art.

Turn these walls into a ramp to get out of the Valley of the Suck by understanding their place and value.

Give yourself time and let your art live by giving yourself time and the patience to invest in your own growth as an artist.

Is Skill A Trap For Artists?

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When I teach Anatomy, I have learned that it’s essential to go beyond muscle groups and bones. Making art is bigger than technique. Sure, artists need to develop their skills. Learning anatomy informs your work and makes it realistic. But if you focus on only skill and drive your art with the critical eye of a perfectionist or draftsman, it will not thrive as art on its own. It will always be limited to our vision and captive to our anxiety.

What is the anatomy of our vision? What is the anatomy of our psyche?

How can we get our work to the point where it lives and resonates and begins to take on its own life?

If you let it, your work will start to develop its own life and vitality. It will exist outside of us.

So often, we think about art and we want to control what is happening on the canvas or screen or sculpture. We believe that we must have more skill and ability and we compare ourselves to others. We judge our work. We erase and delete and poke at it.

We want to shape it into something that we anticipated that it would be. Too often, we don’t leave room for magic.

Life has its own plans.

When we start to create our artwork and get out of our own heads, all the training and skill slips away and the art becomes something of its own. When that happens, our job is not to control it or to be irritated when the proportions are off or something is wrong with it. Our job as artists is to help it grow.

We are there to converse with it and not dictate our commands about what we think it’s supposed to be. The only way to do that is to let everything go and to be in that moment with the art that you are creating. By letting go we create life and art.

We need to get out of its way. When we screw up the drawing or sculpture by overworking it or overthinking it; that’s on us. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can let our art develop its own life and potential if we learn to get out of its way.

Yes, we have to acquire skill and resources, but at a certain point, on the paper or canvas or screen there is enough for life and art. And more work just complicates the process. We need to find the balance in order to create. We need to trust that when we let go, something wonderful can happen and in that moment, art comes to life.

How To Not Destroy The Universe

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The internet and bookstores are filled with information on the psychology of sports. We know that in order for athletes to perform at their best, they have to understand their own psychology. Contrast that to the psychology of art. If you Google psychology of art you get depression groups and art therapy. Art as therapy and talking about art when we are in a vulnerable and damaged state is valuable. But there is a significant lack when it comes to considering and honing the performance psychology of artists.

How do we grow and thrive as artists? In art, skill is 20% – the rest is psychology.

We don’t need to perfect our skills and become the best draftsmen. That’s not necessarily what makes great art and a lack of skill is not what holds us back. We need to work on our psychology. The artist’s path is fraught with uncertainty. That is the nature of creation. Understanding your own process and psychology as an artist will open the door to more freedom.

Artists sometimes feel selfish when they work on their own artwork. We limit our access to the studio and the freedom of time to work on our art because we feel like we have to spend our time earning money by creating something for a client or providing for our family.

We get into the studio and we face that blank canvas or that white page. We feel selfish for wanting to put our own creation on that canvas. In our culture, work is considered to be valuable. What is play?

As artists, we need to cultivate a new sense of play. Creating art isn’t selfish. Play is essential for exploration and for understanding. Children understand their connection to the world through play and by creating tests. They study the world and their relationship and reaction to it by play. They investigate and explore everything and learn and become more capable through the essential work of play.

Play is learning. If we don’t allow ourselves to learn and to grow, the artistic soul will die.

Your brilliance and beauty and the art that you create is essential and valuable. In order to become what we can be as artists, we must get into the studio to play and explore. When you have a moment to grow; take it! Play like it’s life or death. Play with all your heart. Play like it matters!