I am selling a few online classes on this blog and 2 of them (26 weeks of inspiration and training and 12 weeks of drawing explorations) are built around assignments and feedback I give to artists. The way it works is participants fill out a form at the end of each assignment and they share a picture of what they did as well as comments on their inspirations, techniques or challenges and I email them feedback.
I think it is true that teachers learn from their students. After looking attentively and almost daily at many pieces of art for the last 3 years, I think I am starting to get a more precise picture of the common struggles artists are facing and also the things that are holding us back. Of course every artist is unique but we tend to share common challenges.
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One of the things that are holding us back is sometimes a fear of risk taking; risk taking in style or subject matter but also risk taking in scale and time spent on a painting. I am often encouraging artists to push their limits a bit more, paint bigger, add more details, push that idea a little bit further.
Art that falls short often does so not because the artist failed to meet the challenge, but because there was never a challenge there in the first place.
About style and subject matter I think that most of the time, risk taking is rewarding, playing it too safe usually ends up in art that is somewhat too consensual, already seen many times and not that exciting.
On scale and time spent, many factors can go into play including the fear of wasting costly art supplies, the fear of not being good enough as an artist or the fear of wasting time if we don’t like the end result.
Failure for an artist is always an interesting lesson learned and a sign that you are making progress. After all, if all your attempts are always successful, it might be a sign that you are playing it too safe or that you found a formula that work but are stuck repeating that same formula over and over.
I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.
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There is something more physical, working with wider gestures when working on a larger scale that changes the way you paint and the outcome. You can use your hands to spread the paint or even a turkey baster to add paint!
You can also try pushing your limits in terms of patience. I often do that and find myself in a situation of doubt saying to myself “What did I get myself into?” repeatedly. I now start to recognize that as a positive sign and have been rarely disappointed by the results of trying to push my patience to its limits.