Lessons I've learned as an artist

There are so many lessons learned from being an artist. Life lessons that can only push you to be better. It's a totally uncomfortable journey into self discovery and personal confidence, loosely bound together with fearlessness. 

So much of an artists journey is uncomfortable, but when you strip away all the pointless crap and excuses, you set yourself free.


Stop trying

Wow! This one was a tough lesson that really took some time to learn. Art is not an exact science. You don't simply decide to paint a landscape and it will work out perfectly every time. You have to allow yourself space and time to learn and grow.

Let go of the reigns, relax and just create. When you stop trying so hard, the end result may just surprise you.


Failing is actually learning

For so long I was hard on myself when an artwork wasn't quite working as I had envisioned it. There was a sense of disappointment, of failing. How hard could it be! Others can do it!

Then one day I heard 'Failures are learning opportunities'. When I heard this it really hit me between the eyes. It completely changed my perspective and the way I was creating. It allowed me to embrace the things I thought were failures, let go of all the judgement and just keep creating.

We can be our own worst enemies until it is pointed out. Love what you are doing no matter if you think it is good or not.


Accepting Art is your work

This was (and still is at times) a difficult one to accept. For as long as I can remember, being an artist was not a good career choice.

How often have we heard 'There's no money in art', 'Being an artist is hard, it's a struggle'. Why though? Who decided this was the narrative?

When you step back and simply look around, art is absolutely everywhere, in many different forms, on many different surfaces. We are surrounded by creativity.

I worked as a graphic designer for over 25 years, at times earning a very nice wage, but this was only a job! Now calling myself an artist is both exciting but also difficult. 

There are heavy expectations in society to work hard and earn a living, yet being an artist means so much more than just that. Its a calling, its satisfying an urge, its following your heart... that is what work should be for everyone.


Let the inspiration come. Embrace your intuition.

I am a very visual person like I imagine most artists would be, so when I used to create my art, I found myself being very structured and literal with everything I was creating. It had to be obvious what it was. Nothing was left to the imagination.

Over time I have learned, and still learning, to relax that expectation. Wether I know what I want to create, or I am starting with a completely blank canvas, I allow my intuition to guide me. I turn off my thinking brain and just add the colour and strokes as they come to me.

It's incredibly liberating and exciting. 


Practice makes better! Perfect is an illusion

You've probably heard the saying 'Practice makes perfect' but in reality,  perfect is impossible. There is no such thing as perfect! Especially in art.

Knowing when to stop is one thing, deciding it is perfect is another.

What may be perfect to one person will not be perfect to the next. Your definition of perfect is also your own definition based on your life experiences and lessons.

There was a time where I refused to show anything I created if I thought it was not perfect in my eyes. What I quickly discovered though is that to others, what I deemed imperfect, they were in awe of. 

Let go of the need to be anything other than you. Practice for yourself to be better and embrace the journey.


My mood will determine my final artwork

When I first decided to call myself an artist, and to start creating artworks more regularly, there were times I was not exactly in the right frame-of-mind, or the best mood to be creating in.

Trying to feel inspired while also feeling frustrated was near impossible. The only results I was getting was more frustration.

I have learnt to sit before I start creating, clear my mind, meditate for a few minutes, put on my happy music, even dance if needed to break out of that negative headspace.

The end result is always better regardless of the artwork. 


Feedback is feedback

With social media all around us, and sharing our creations so easy, we open ourselves to comments and feedback from complete strangers. 

Learning to accept all feedback was a huge growth curve for me. Not all comments are helpful, but I learnt that I also don't need to acknowledge anything that doesn't serve me.

I realised I cannot please everyone, nor will everyone be able to please me!

Artwork is incredibly subjective and extremely personal. Allowing others to comment is an opportunity to learn and grow as an artist.


If you don't change anything, nothing will change.

I rejected and avoided the idea of being an artist for so long.

I can't! I'm not good enough! How can I make money?

So many excuses and stories to make sure I didn't stray away from what I knew.

Well, that's the perfect recipe for frustration. I had to make the scary decision to change and back myself with it.

The moment I did, and started sharing this with others, I found the support overwhelming. My energy, enthusiasm, hunger to grow got stronger. It was all I needed to keep pursuing my new career. 

Just make the choice to change, it's that hardest step.. otherwise nothing will change!


Step out of your comfort zone

This goes hand in hand with change. It's too easy to stay where you are, doing what you are doing, not rocking the boat. It's safe and comfortable.

Choosing to step away from this comfort comes with a lot of fear and anxiety. When you really step back and assess what it is you are afraid of, you realise it may not be all that bad.

Start looking. Things may not be as tough as you think. It won't be easy. There will be struggles and sacrifices that need to be made. 

I know that I am so happy to have taken the step and challenged myself. I am so much closer to my dream now because of my decisions.

Happy creating.

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