Top 5 Tips For Doing It – Motivation and Art

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After my post the other day about having found motivation for doing art I thought I’d share these tips for getting down to business and doing it. Just in time for the weekend to put them into practice!!

There are many reasons why we might not do something we want to do. I wrote the tips below with art in mind, but with some modification they can apply to pretty much anything. The important thing is to find something that works to enable you, to do what you want.

1. Take A Course

Willowing Online CoursesCourses give you an external motivation to do art. They will give you more practical skills, which in turn will increase your confidence. There might be assignments or exercises which walk you through new techniques. This is a much safer way to start something, because there is already a blueprint for doing it: you don’t have to make it up all by yourself.

It can also be motivating to be in a group of like-minded people and to share the results of the lessons and discuss them. By the end of the course you will have completed work you can look back on, feel proud of and see your own progress in. It will be a jumping off point to keep creating.

Places you can find courses: local college (in London you can try City Lit or Morley College), art/craft shop or online. I’ve taken online courses from Tam @ Willowing, Suzi Blu and Adriana Almanza.

2. Distract Yourself

Occupy your conscious mind to access your subconscious mind. I overthink what I do ALL.THE.TIME. My inner critic works overtime when I’m creating a painting. It’s hard to be free and create art from the heart when my mind is so present all the time. Something that can really help is to distract your thinking mind so you free your creative mind to do what it does best. I do this by watching TV while painting (or you could listen to an audiobook, music or have a conversation with someone etc). Following the storyline and dialogue distracts me just enough to let my hand move freely and helps me make organic choices rather than getting stuck on things like which colour to use.

3. Copy Your Favorite Artists

OK this might sound controversial but bear with me. Ask yourself what you like. Whose art makes you happy or evokes strong feelings in you? Create a folder on your computer (or a board on Pinterest) with art that makes your heart sing. Then copy the hell out of it. When you copy something another artist has done it is called a study. Obviously you don’t sell these works or pass them off as your own, but what you are doing is slipping on someone else’s shoes for a bit and in so doing it will help you develop. You are practicing, you are learning your own likes and dislikes and it will spark your own original creative side and eventually develop your own style.

4. Limit Your Options

This world of ours has limitless choices and if you’re anything like me you’ll have an abundance of art supplies. I get almost as excited about buying new art supplies as I do about creating art. I find myself getting overwhelmed and scared when I think about all the supplies I have sitting around waiting to be used. So much potential but how best to use them, in what combination and what to use in this particular painting?

So strip it right down, reduce! Don’t leave the choice open to all your art supplies available. Pick a limited number of supplies you will use. For example I would choose: 4 colours, 2 patterned papers, 1 stamp, gesso & brayer. Then as you gain confidence creating paintings with limited options, you will find you automatically know what other supplies to reach for because you know what your painting needs.

I give a bunch of limited supply suggestions in my art & inspiration guide, so go and download that if you haven’t already. You can also check out some art journaling videos where I created journal spreads with limited supplies.

5. Acknowledge Your Fear

I left this one to last as it’s the most important one and the crux of a lot of motivational problems.

You have finally carved out some you-time to do art and you find yourself with a compelling urge to tidy your desk, or alphabetise your DVD collection, or clean the kitchen or [fill in the blank with your particular distraction]. You don’t actually need to do any of those things, and they certainly have nothing to do with creating art. This is your fear in the driving seat. Your fear is there to protect you, perhaps you’re trying to avoid disappointment or you don’t want to fail or you’re afraid of what other people will think. But for all its noble intentions, your fear holds you back and stops you doing what you actually set aside time to do. Tell yourself ‘thank you very much fear for trying to protect me, but I’d like to do some art now please, so piss off’.

I admit I wrote that last line for comic effect, but the point I’m trying to make is that by acknowledging your fear you bring it into the open. If you see your avoidance behaviour for what it really is – fear – then you can try and move past it or work with it and turn it into creative opportunity. It is also helpful if you can try and identify exactly what is it you are afraid of. Personally I fear creating something ugly and ‘failing’ at being an artist (I hardly feel I’m even allowed to apply that word to myself, a topic for another blog post!). I fear other people’s criticism or lack of interest. I feel I have to be perfect and create perfect art. So for me it helps to acknowledge these issues. I try to give myself permission to practice, see what I’m working on as a process to getting better and try to create things for myself in the first instance.

The fear is always there and sometimes it is louder than other times. It is likely that it will never go away, but you have to arm yourself with techniques that will help you do art despite your fear.

Finally, just try and get on a roll. Start so you may continue. I find that ideas breed ideas and creativity breeds creativity. The more you are doing it, the more you will feel like doing it.

I would love it if you shared in the comments what your top tips are for doing art or any other activity you feel passionate about.

OMG You’ve Ruined It!

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I have such a big fear of spoiling things. Either spoiling things for myself of a fear of external things spoiling things for me. It affects pretty much all areas of my life, for example I find it very hard to order off a menu, in case the choice turns out to be ‘wrong’ or disappointing.

Similar with art. What if this colour is the wrong one, what if this stamp makes things look ugly, what if I ruin the pretty face I’ve sketched once I add colour to it? It is so stifling as it always imbues the next thing with so much risk. I recognise that this is once again my fear trying to protect me from disappointment. If I don’t take the risk, I can’t ‘spoil it’ and can’t be disappointed (order the same thing off the menu every time… wait ages to create another art piece in case the next one is going to be super horrible).

I watched an art video by Tamara Laporte recently in which she draws with black marker pen on the face she’s just painted. My initial reaction is “OMG no! That’ll ruin it!”. Except, it turns out that actually it doesn’t. I learned from this.

  1. The next step is the next step. It does not inherently hold ruining power.
  2. If you don’t like it, you can paint over it. Mixed media is all about layers. The ‘flawed’ layer can become a building block to a more complex finished piece.
  3. Your latest art piece is not you. It’s an expression of you, but it does not personify you. If it is ‘bad’ (such a subjective concept anyway!), it doesn’t mean you’re destined to make ‘bad art’ forevermore.
  4. You’re allowed to practice. Make mistakes. ‘Ruin things’. You may not have created something you like, but you have learned about what you do not like. Next time it will be better.
  5. TURN THE NEXT PAGE AND MOVE ON!

Ahh fear.. my misguided frenemy. Thank you, but not this time please.