Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's the Journey that Defines You! (part 2)

In Part One of this series I compared developing an art career to taking a road trip. I touched on preparing for your destination, the importance of having a map and the need to stay focused. You've had a few days to consider your art career. It's now time to start preparing for your journey. Lets get started.
Preparation is Key:
Whether you're just beginning your art career or you're a seasoned professional preparing for a gallery opening... inadequate preparation is opening the door to failure.

For the seasoned professional artist, you've achieved many of your goals and gone on to set new ones...don't forget the good habits that got you here.

If you're a college student majoring in art, I envy you...absorb all you can, knowing that you will be getting on the road to success closer to your destination than many of us.

For those of you without professional training who are "thinking about", "dreaming about", or wondering "could I really" become an artist...I say, choose your destination, get out your map and start planning your trip!

The "To Do" list for Your Journey
1. Make a Conscious Decision...Say to yourself everyday, "I am an artist".
You have to believe you're an artist before anyone else will believe. Get the image into your head, make it part of your being. Develop and fine tune your vision...we generally get, in some fashion, what we think about and focus on most. It simply works.

Refresh and Fine Tune Your Skills:
Knowledge builds confidence. Depending on your level of skill, search out appropriate art education. There are online communities that will critique your work...join them and submit regularly. In 'part one' of this series and I gave you links to the two online forums I found most helpful. (see additional links below)

Take some basic drawing classes...regardless of your medium, drawing teaches you to see. And there is a tremendous difference between seeing and looking. Get on the web and find artists whose work you admire and ask questions. If they offer classes, sign up. I take a class or workshop two or three times a year...returning each time to my drawing board with renewed enthusiasm.

Join an art club, get together with other artists in your area. Once a month I meet with a group of painters...sometimes I paint but most times I draw. The exchange of ideas from others who see the way you see is exhilarating. Don't have a group in your area? Start one.

READ...there are lots of instructional art books by great artists crammed full of information. Most book stores today have a reading area or coffee shop where you can sit and browse before you purchase or...not. Many artists who write books also offer workshops. Some of my favorite books on drawing and watercolor are listed under the topic... Artist Resources.

What ever your medium is...make a schedule, setting aside creative time for your art...and don't let anyone or anything steal it away from you. There will be exceptions but when exceptions become the rule, you need to reevaluate...finding a schedule that is workable.

3. Create an Artist's Statement:
You may think it is a little soon for this, but it will give you strength for the journey ahead, define your goals, maintain your focus, and help you explain your work to others. For now your artist statement needs to simply explain who you are, what your art is about, and what you want it to say.

Asking a few simple questions can help you decide what to write: WHY do I draw? WHAT do I draw? WHERE do I get my ideas? WHO do I want to touch with my work. (At this stage, your artist statement is for your benefit) It will be revised many times in the next few months before it's presented to the public.

4. Develop a Plan:
To start with, on the back of your artist statement, make a list of achievable short-term and medium-term goals, creating a time line. It could be as simple as "taking a workshop" or "setting aside studio time each week" researching and planning a "small exhibition for friends in 12 months to unveil your new career as an artist".

Identify and list some steps for achieving each goal: noting the deadline for your workshop and making necessary travel plans, scheduling your weekly studio time, or preparing for your first exhibition...finding a venue, framing, designing invitations, contracting caterers, arranging for music.

Your "Artist Statement" and "Goals" are powerful tools...mine are always close at hand. In fact I keep a copy in my billfold.

5. Build a Strong, Cohesive Body of Work:
Start producing "frame worthy" pieces on high quality paper or canvas. You'll need 20 to 30 works in a style, medium, and subject matter that distinguishes you from other artists in some way.

If you work in more than one medium, select one to move forward with. You need to be recognizable if you want to get peoples attention. Galleries expect to see continuity in their artists work. Art Fairs are more tolerant but will charge a premium if you're showing more than one medium in your booth.

Well, I think this is enough to keep you busy for awhile. Remember...don't rush things, it's one step at a time. Take it slow, enjoy the journey and never, never give up on you!

Part 3 is next....Developing a Web Presence That Works.

This article continues here: Part 1, Part 3, Part 4


Carol's Drawing Club ...Scribble Talk ...artist forums
Wet Canvas
...Art Papa ...artist forums
Books on Watercolor...Books on Drawing

Marsha Robinett Fine
My Squidoo...drawing techniques

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Jennie Norris said...

Thank you marsha for the insight and experience. I really needed to hear the part about "If you work in more than one medium, select one to move forward with". I have been all over the place for a while experimenting with different mediums, but I guess It's what has gotten me to this place I am now.

I have always been partial to graphite but have always held the notion it's not really viewed as " fine art" . I recently started working in graphite again and fell right back in love with it. I think I'm going to" select one and move forward" Thanks again and I look forward to seeing more of your work, Jennie Norris

Marsha Robinett said...

In the beginning I took classes in anything that was available...and like you I was all over the place. I was hungry for knowledge.

When looking at the work of "professional artists" I realized that they specialized in one medium (possibly two)and had developed a distinctive style that could be recognized as "their own".

I'm still hungry for knowledge, but for now specializing in one medium has allowed me to develop my artistic style and become a better artist in general.

You are also right that pencil is not thought of as highly as some mediums...but there is a place for it and you can succeed as a pencil artist.

My best for your future.

Corinne Murphy said...

Wow Marsha! I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks you're speaking directly and personally to me! I just LOVE this series and it came at such a perfect time for me. I've only been painting for about 2 1/2 years but in my head, I've been painting forever! I've started late in life as you say you have and this series is going to not only save me a lot of valuable time, but it's been the kick-in-the-tush that I've needed to 'get it all together and make it work'. You've answered questions I've had all along and I am more than thrilled and excited to move forward! Thank you so, so much for more than you'll ever know. God bless you and keep you healthy and happy enough to continue your 'work' for many, may years to come. Corinne Murphy

PamYla said...

Thank you, this is a lot to chew on! I recently found myself trying to explain what drawing meant to me..I could hear crickets as she blankly stared. This is because other than doodling, which I try to do daily, there are no bodies of work. They are stuck in my head. THank you Marsha, for taking time on these subjects that arent usually shared with others

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