Have you reached a point in your art journey at which you feel relatively confident about your skills but are anxious to find your own style and voice? Are you stuck with your art and feel that your own perfectionism and/or fear of failure is keeping you from moving forward?
"Create your own visual style... let it be unique for yourself
and yet identifiable for others."
There is a point in every artist's journey at which a substantial amount of time and effort has been dedicated to developing artistic skills, but the artist has yet to decide what ideas he/she wants to share with the world and what mediums, techniques and style will set him/her apart from others. It takes an immense amount of work, exploration and introspection to push through this point, but it's important to keep on until the breakthrough happens.
In my opinion, it's exactly THIS desire to push through the initial phase that differentiates a hobbyist from a pro. It's a point at which perfect rendering and technique becomes just as important as (or may even take back seat to) having an artwork transmit the ideas or feelings we are striving to transmit.
In this blog post, I will be sharing five very useful tips that will help you loosen up and express more of yourself through your art. It's this exploration that will help you discover yourself as an artist. If you're at this point, it's time to experiment fearlessly and push your limits!
I wrote a blog post several months ago in which I share an excellent method that you can apply to start discovering your own art style using other artists' work as inspiration. This strategy will be very useful for you in this stage, so make sure to check it out after this post.
How to Effectively Use Other Artists' Work as Inspiration and a Great Method to Start Developing Your Own Artistic Style.
Currently, I'm doing a lot of exploratory work with oils on canvas. If you've been following my work for any amount of time, you probably already know that I love working on smaller-scale watercolor illustrations. However, I've had the pleasure of creating larger decorative fine art for local clients and have really enjoyed it! I'm making time for oil painting as much as I can and am planning on selling my artwork internationally in the near future.
I'm working on a series of five large landscape oil paintings. I will be sharing these with you throughout the upcoming weeks so stay tuned!
5 Tips That Will Help You Become More Loose and Expressive When Creating Art
"Regularity, order, desire for perfection destroy art.
Irregularity is the basis of all art."
1. Gain confidence in your skills by learning and practicing
In order to draw or paint freely, you need to have a certain level of confidence in your skills. And the only way to truly gain confidence in anything, is by practicing first-handedly. Knowing Art Fundamentals inside and out is going to help you IMMENSELY, and is the basis for everything else.
Things like composition, harmony, proportion, color, perspective, texture, value, etc., have to be engrained in your head so that you can apply this knowledge naturally and organically as you are creating your artwork.
Aside from knowing Art Fundamentals, it's also imperative for you to have some experience working with whatever medium and supplies you're thinking of using. How are you going to paint or draw freely if you feel like you're constantly fighting with the medium?
The saying "Learn the rules before you can break them." applies here!
In my blog post titled Why Sketchbooks Are Essential Tools for Artists and A Few Usage Tips
I share how I personally use my sketchbooks on a daily basis to make sure I'm progressing continuously.
2. Prepare yourself mentally before you begin
It's absolutely essential to start a challenging piece in the right headspace. Once you have arrived at the idea of what you'll be creating, start with positivity and confidence. I've mentioned this before, but our minds are EXTREMELY powerful! Remember, if you think you're going to fail, you most likely will.
Now is the time to embrace experimentation and throw perfectionism out the window! Allow the magic to happen as you work with your medium and tools. Do your best to give up some of your control and allow your medium to do some of the speaking for itself.
3. Paint with larger brushes and, if possible, on a larger substrate
Painting/drawing at a larger scale will not only encourage more arm movement (which in turn leads to more dynamic work), but allows you to focus on larger shapes. Using a larger brush, or drawing tools like chalk or charcoal, also make it more difficult to obsess over tiny little details. This, in turn, challenges you to think about what is actually needed in your composition and what can be left out.
Not to mention, larger pieces are also (usually) meant to be viewed from farther away. At the moment of drawing or painting, step back and continuously remind yourself that the piece is meant to be appreciated from a distance.
If you're creating a painting, remember that your paintbrush is not meant to be held as a writing pencil or pen! Try holding it with your thumb and index finger, and keep the rest of your hand relaxed. Beginners have a tendency to hold brushes very close to the bristles to feel more in control. Try holding your brush farther up the handle, anywhere from halfway up to the tip.
Explore the different types of brush strokes your brushes are able to create, and the shapes and textures their bristles naturally leave behind. Load your paintbrushes with a good amount of paint so that there's more of a chance for interesting "natural" occurrences to happen.
4. Use music
Music can have such a deep impact on our mood and inspiration levels! I love creating a good, long playlist for myself prior to starting with a painting. Music helps keep my creativity flowing and my energy high for hours.
Our taste in music will vary from person to person, of course. Perhaps an artist looking to create an extremely dynamic abstract painting would be inspired by music with a faster/upbeat tempo. Whereas, another artist might find more relaxing, classical music more helpful.
Regardless of your taste in music, create a playlist that will help you stay positive, inspired and motivated to continue.
5. Learn to leave your brushstrokes alone
Do your best to place your brushstrokes (or lines if your drawing) with intention and then leave them alone! Allow the organic occurrences to happen and think of how you can use these effects to your advantage instead of trying to correct them or blend them out.
Stop yourself from pushing forward with actions that are really not really necessary. Try to do more with less and don't obsess over every tiny little accident!
Let go of the mental need to control everything!
I hope that you found this post helpful and that it encouraged you to keep exploring and moving forward with your art! I wish you all the best and remember to enjoy the process!
"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep."
Are you in the process of finding your art style and voice, or do you feel you still need to practice your basic art skills? What type of artwork are you most drawn to, and how do you think this will translate into your own artwork? I'd LOVE to hear from you in the comments section below.
Thanks so much for dropping by today! If you enjoyed this post/video, check out the following:
Watercolor Landscape by Eddi Reid
One of the most amazing parts of having a blog is the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world with whom you share passions and interests with.
Today, I have the honor of sharing this amazing painting created by Eddi Reid, a participant in the current series I published- Watercolor Landscapes for Beginners. I've had the pleasure of getting to know Eddi through email and she is, undoubtedly, an incredibly creative, courageous, and kind artist that I can now say I'm fortunate of knowing.
Thank you SO much Eddi, for your participation and for sharing your work with us!
You're truly an inspiration and I'm looking forward to enjoying more of it!
Check out the Watercolor Landscapes for Beginners series here:
Do you frequently experience phases of low creativity? Are you currently unmotivated to continue pushing your artistic skills forward? Does a lack of inspiration stop you from creating and progressing as an artist?
"Inspiration and work ethic, they ride right next to each other."
- Jack White
All artists are bound to go through some kind of creative block from time to time, no matter how talented or experienced they may be. This makes it absolutely essential (especially for us working artists) to have some sort of effective system set in place to keep us productive and moving forward consistently.
Though we may consciously decide to take breaks from our art from time to time, being an artist is synonymous with constant creation. Keeping creativity levels high day-in-and-day-out can certainly be exhausting, and it's impossible to be in the perfect headspace for creation ALL of the time. However, taking long breaks from our art will most definitely affect our progress.
In today's blog post, I will share the method I personally use to re-engage with my art in difficult times. This strategy will help you whenever you're feeling uninspired, unmotivated, frustrated, or even just bored with your current art routine. The goal is to ensure that you're moving forward, even when you're not at your best. You can make the exercise as easy or difficult as you'd like at any given point in time. I'll explain in a bit.
But first, there's something we have to touch upon!
I find there are two main reasons that we can hit creative blocks as artists:
1. We may not feel like creating because we feel insecure or simply bored with our current art routines. In these situations, we have to learn to suck it up and get to work. Sometimes we have to be okay with just showing up and doing what we can.
2. We can be mentally and physically drained by everything we have going on in life, and will very likely hit a wall even if we DO show up. Each one of us is in a different situation, but it's imperative to make time for self-care. It should be our priority above all else.
If you're in the first camp, I encourage you to power through. The more you push yourself to create in these times of low inspiration, the easier it will become. If you're in the second, I really recommend you take a few days to plan out how you'll be prioritizing your mental and physical well-being from here on out. I truly, 100% believe that if you're not taking care of yourself, EVERYTHING else will suffer, including your artistic progress.
Read my blog post titled How I Find Inspiration as an Artist and Some Ideas to Keep You Going. There, I share the mentality I have adopted that helps me stay inspired and keep creative blocks at bay!
Practical Life Tips to Get You Back Into the Flow of Creation
Before we actually get into the creative exercise, I'm going to give you a few general tips that you should try. I find when I apply these in my daily or weekly routines, I'm less likely to get into an art block to begin with.
1. Clean and organize your working area
I don't consider myself a neat-freak by any means. However, I have to admit that when things start to get messy around me, it starts affecting me mentally (and thus my productivity suffers). By staying organized, there's much more of a chance you'll feel like getting to work.
2. Get moving
Guys, I cannot stress the importance of physical exercise enough. Some of my best ideas come up when I'm moving! Not to mention, as artists/illustrators, we sit and/or hunch A LOT of the time and it's absolutely IMPERATIVE to stay healthy and work on our posture! Exercise has brought me a level of mental clarity and energy that I didn't have in my younger (and most sedentary) years. At the VERY least, make sure you're taking stretching breaks throughout the day!
3. Go be social or get out of your usual environment
As artists, it can be easy to stay holed up in our studios all day long. Although we primarily work by ourselves, it's important to remember that our inspiration comes through actually LIVING experiences first-handedly. Sometimes, just going out for coffee with a friend or taking a walk around the block will do! Keep in mind you never want to get to a point at which you forget how to talk to other human beings!
4. Set aside some "me time"
I don't know about you, but I feel like life gets so busy sometimes that if breathing wasn't absolutely automatic and necessary to continue living, I think I would forget to do it. Understandably, there will be periods of high stress in our lives, but these should be the exception and not the rule. Make sure you're setting aside time to do what you want to do in life and ENJOY IT! Make time for proper rest and to be alone as much as you feel you need to.
5. Start taking notes
I carry a small sketchbook or notebook everywhere I go. I got in the habit of doing this a while back because ideas randomly pop up in my head throughout the day and I don't want to end up forgetting something that could lead to a good artwork or creative project in general. It's awesome to have a little bank of ideas in the background because, even if you don't use them immediately, you can come back to them when you can't find anything to work on.
Check out my blog post titledWhy Sketchbooks are Essential Tools for Artists and a Few Usage Tips.
6. Get inspired by the other art genres
Don't limit yourself to only getting inspired by the visual arts! Reading good literature, watching movies/documentaries, listening to music, and even cooking can lead to amazing ideas for new art pieces! Finding ways of mixing and matching things we love all across the board can lead to the most personal and unique art pieces!
7. Create a Pinterest Inspiration board (or a folder on your desktop)
Collect artwork that appeals to you and use it as inspiration. However, never EVER compare yourself to other artists! Try to target and make notes of specific characteristics you like (maybe it's the colors the artist used, the line work, how effectively emotions are transmitted, etc.) and try to implement it in your own way.
Check out my Pinterest inspiration board here.
Read my post titled How to Effectively Use Other Artists' Work as Inspiration and a Great Method to Start Developing Your Own Artistic Style to learn about my personal approach of getting inspiration from artists I admire, while making sure I'm creating something truly original.
8. Ditch the perfectionist attitude
Many times, we keep ourselves from even starting because we're afraid of wasting supplies and/or producing something that won't measure up to our expectations (or the expectations of others). I honestly believe that being a perfectionist is one of the worst mistakes an artist can make. It wasn't until I understood that creating art is more about the process than the end product that I started to really improve my skills and make progress towards finding my style. Not everything is supposed to be a masterpiece!
My Secret Tool for Staying Creatively Inspired and Challenged
As artists, we should embrace exploration and challenge. It is through exploring different techniques, supplies and/or subjects that we not only expand our abilities, but are able to learn about our personal likes, dislikes and areas of improvement.
I like taking moments of low inspiration or motivation to step out of my comfort zone and do something that will challenge me in a way that I haven't been in a while, whether it's a shorter pencil sketch or a painting using mediums or styles I haven't explored.
See, even if you've already discovered your artistic medium of choice and are set on your subject or technique, stretching your boundaries is a great way to stimulate your creativity, reinvigorate yourself and reignite your passion for art. Through explorations uncommon to you, you're able to arrive at ideas you wouldn't have thought of, ideas that can later be applied in your larger pieces.
When I'm truly in a tough mental state, I don't pressure myself to generate an amazing product at all, but focus much more on the exploration and journey. I disconnect from my inner critique and focus on enjoying the feel of my supplies, each individual color, line and shape. I allow things to happen naturally. This is what I decided to do on the day I filmed the video included here.
What's important, is to keep moving forward at least in a small way, and not give up altogether.
In my blog you'll find information and resources to help you improve your art skills. I also share tips that will help you stay happy and productive as your journey progresses.
Feel free to send me an
email, leave a comment on the site and/or reach out on social media. I'd love to connect!
Hope you enjoy
and find this useful!
10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting with Watercolors
Why Sketchbooks are Essential Tools for Artists and a Few Usage Tips
Guide to Shading Techniques: Hatching, Cross-Hatching, Scribbling and Others
How to Effectively Use Other Artists' Work as Inspiration and a Great Method to Start Developing Your Own Artistic Style
How to Draw a Face