If there were a way to help you to become a better artist, then what you are about to read is probably the most extensive structure to follow.

I can personally vouch for its effectiveness as it is the blueprint I continue to use.

There are essentially four pillars that I operate from – for which I will go through and break down into individual components.

 

Pillar #1 – Develop Your Craft & Discover Your Voice

This is where it all starts – developing your ability produce good work. The following list of resources and ideas will help you develop your skill as an artist.

 

Art Books

Although it may seem a little obvious, books are still one of the best forms of reference.

Get your hands on books to help you produce your art and flush out new ideas.

Books are very handy to have within arm’s reach while you are working.

They are also a great alternative to online videos because you can avoid the constant interruptions of advertisements.

Books allow you to focus without distraction.

For example – have you ever started watching a great art tutorial online, only to look at the time and discover it’s three hours later and your now watching TED talks on innovation or addiction?

Books are tangible and very hands on – they can be accessed immediately without the potential of you losing half your night scrolling social media posts.

 

Online Tutorials

Yes, as previously mentioned, this can be a time trap.

But let’s face it, there is some amazing free educational content online.

The trick is to identify what your objective is, seek it out and then go put it to use.

Avoid getting pulled into the void – the internet “time suck”.

It has the potential to steal a lot of your life away.

If you do commit to any online tutorials, be sure they are “step-by-step” in nature, provide you with structure and guide you to an attainable result. 

 

Local Classes Offline

Enrolling in a local art group or art class is a great way to network with other artists.

Many for whom could be just starting out.

Local classes also give you the benefit of having a teacher or art mentor within arm’s reach – which will provide you with immediate feedback in terms of your progress as an artist.

These types of environments are good in helping you discover new styles formats of working.

It’s a great way to get up and running quickly.

However, I wouldn’t suggest immersing yourself in art classes to always be following someone else’s lead.

You should have a desire to branch off and develop your own voice.

 

Experimentation

The most assured way of finding your own voice as an artist is through pure experimentation.

So be brave, bold and follow your own gut instincts as often as you can.

The moment you begin to discover your own voice on the canvas is quite empowering.

It will lift your confidence and fuel your desire to stay consistent in your quality of work.

Most of experimenting is breaking through the false ideals of perfection and the fear of making mistakes.

There is no such thing as making mistakes because there is nothing to compare your work to when it comes to your uniqueness.

It becomes as ridiculous as trying to compare a pair of underpants with an apple.

Make sense?

Never underestimate your ability to create unique work.

That does not necessarily mean it will happen for you overnight.

But it can happen.

 

Always Be Working

Developing your craft comes from your ability to schedule your intent.

This could mean getting up earlier in the morning if you work a 9 to 5 to get an hour or two in first thing in the morning.

Arrange your creative studio space to always be ready.

One of biggest deflators of motivation is having to set up and pack up after every session.

If you must keep doing that it can make you more susceptible to not doing anything.

Who wants to drag themselves out of bed at 5am, with that all day morning hairdo, tripping over things and spending most of your creative time setting up?

My best tip is to have a place in your home that is ready to go at any moment – so you can arrive, switch on a light, and start working right away.

Make your ability to create very accessible and always be working.

Having a sketch pad available is the most accessible.

This will allow you to draw, sketch or even doodle without the hassles of setting up each morning.

 

Expression

The goal here is to awaken the real artist within you.

It all starts with your daily ritual.

Set a time each day and dedicate to further discovery in your art.

To freely express yourself is to get out of your head and into the present.

I need to be clear here – anything you do is a form of expression.

You are unique.

Discovering free expression in your art is letting your gut lead the way.

It is to follow your own lead and not someone else’s.

This does not mean that what you produce must be abstract.

It simply means it can be realistic and created in your own voice.

It could be by adding to something that already exists, or simply subtracting something from that same form.

Expression comes from fluency and flow.

One book I do highly recommend is the book Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Suspend any regular commitment to rules.

Learn how to see things for yourself as this will help to trademark your own work with your style.

Experiment with different mediums.

Try acrylic paint on canvas, charcoal, pencil, and oil paints.

This is part of the initial experimental process to see which medium is going to resonate with you most.

Lastly, as you develop and can invest more money into your art, make a point of getting quality supplies.

This will contribute to making your productive process enjoyable, and your art more dynamic.  

 

Pillar #2 – Mindset, Environment, Productivity & Energy

I am firm believer that you cannot control time – but you can control your energy around time.

The following tips with help you master the use of your intrinsic internal instruments – your thoughts and emotions.

 

Self-Talk

The fastest way to become confident as an artist is to master your self-talk.

Is the conversation you have with yourself consistently encouraging or critical?

Which of the following sounds like you…

“I have something important to contribute creatively that will develop my own understanding of the world and help to impact others”

Or…

“I can’t be arsed getting that under painting done – nobody will like the finished painting anyway?”

It’s quite easy to slip into negative self-talk if you leave that tape player in your head on continuous rotation.

Are you constantly thinking of a problem – and more about the problem and not a way to resolve it?

It’s not only about what you are thinking either – as what rolls off your lips verbally, often becomes your reality.

We all tend to rattle ourselves now and then with doubt.

The main thing is not let it take over and prevent you from living proactively.

You can refer to negative self-talk in the third person.

Try associating it to a hungry gremlin. This will allow you to step away and relinquish ownership of these thoughts.

 

Focus and Growth

Focus is best developed by basic training.

Create habits to train your brain to focus without excuses.

There are simple methods to focus better, such as getting better sleep, meditation, and creating healthy routines.

In terms of diet…

I’ve suffered a lot from too much sugar consumption.

Sugar is terrible.

It creates such hideous brain fog.

While it can create an emotional lift, it’s major side effect (among many) is the energy crash afterwards – feeling sluggish, irritable, and disinterested.

Sugar messes with our neurotransmitter, which operates the reward and pleasure component of our brain.

It also causes our dopamine levels to rise – addictive sensations.

Sugar causes you to want more sugar, which in turn causes bigger crashes and cloudier thinking.

So, it’s best to avoid it when you can.

 

Time Well Spent

How you use your time also helps with how well you can focus.

For example, you may determine your best work is produced first thing in the morning.

What tends to happen later in the afternoon is we suffer from brain fatigue.

Our thinking is not as active in the later part of the day as it is first thing in the morning.

This is because your brain has rested and is cleaner in the morning.

Additionally, your memory is consolidated when you are sleeping, hence why your thinking can be a lot more clearer first thing in the morning.

If you do start earlier than everyone else, you are less prone to being distracted.

Many people, however, discover they are more active in the evenings.

This can be attributed to not having the burden of the days worries or stresses in the front of them.

They can work in a stress-free creative bubble of limited interruption, physically and mentally.

 

Procrastination Pollutes Focus

One of the biggest time killers is procrastination.

If you’ve ever felt this funny sensation that tells you need to go do anything else other than the very thing you know you should be doing…

You are in the cross hairs of resistance.

If you don’t own a copy already, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Steven Pressfield’s – The War Of Art.

The core of resistance is fear.  

Fear will disguise itself in the form of procrastination, instant gratifications (even at the detriment of our own health and long-term happiness) or seek drama and distraction.

Resistance manipulates you by providing a lot of (false) evidence about why you need to avoid doing important work.

 

That Damn Phone

Some time ago I removed social media apps from my phone. I wanted to remove the ability to fall vulnerable to pointless distractions.

Although I did at one time have social apps on my phone, I never had notifications activated.

I just do not think it is necessary to have the constant dinging of social media updates and messages disrupting your concentration and focus.

Turning off your notifications is in kin to telling those around you, “Hey y’all, I’m doing some important work at the moment – please do not disturb”.

 

Small Goals Are Sweet

Everyone loves the idea of playing the big game.

However, you can achieve a lot in terms of protecting your focus and growth by realising small achievements.

Therefore, create small “daily” goals.

This doesn’t mean you should neglect your big vision.

Long-term visions are better attained through small bite sized activities.

I make a habit of keeping an eye on the bigger picture but maintain more immediate focus on the one or two small things that must be done on any given day.

I cannot realise the actual achievement in my long-term vision in any given day.

Sure, I can feel excited and motivated by it, and I can play it over in my mind’s eye.

However, the reality is it’s not tangible when the clock hits 9pm.

The small daily goal I set is tangible come 9pm.

It provides a sense of achievement and a knowing that I am moving closer to the bigger vision.

It’s a much better dopamine hit that sugar – just sayin’.

 

Creatively Through Healthy

Speaking from personal experience – when your self-belief becomes a challenge, so do a lot of your healthier lifestyle activities.

Quality sleep becomes a struggle.

Sugar, as previously mentioned, becomes a dark demon in your diet.

Perhaps even alcohol gets consumed more than it should.

All this bad activity does is accentuate and accelerate lower self-esteem and reduces your quality of life.

Remember the self-talk we touched on earlier?

Address it if it needs to be addressed.

Be conscious of the conversations you are having with yourself.

If it becomes too much of a challenge for you, consider talking to someone who can help you.

It will be well worth it.

Protect your self esteem by discovering ways to better relate and react to the circumstances of your life.

It’s important to focus on talking positively to yourself.

Challenge your self-talk as you’ll more than likely discover that a lot of the BS you tell yourself is unfounded.

Stop comparing yourself to others (and other artists).

You are unique, warts and all.

I struggled with the idea of getting in front of the camera to do my art videos many years ago.

But then I got to a point of, “If I die knowing I avoided putting myself out there because of some bullshit vanity misconception about myself, that will be my greatest failure to date”.

My point is, I don’t have a pretty head for television.

But my message is bigger than my concern with how I look.

So therefore, I don’t concern myself with how I may be perceived – all that matters is my message gets received.

Lastly, walk, run, skip, or swim.

Any form of regular exercise it going to build your confidence, health, and self-esteem.

 

Relaxation Is Productive

Relaxation can build your productive stamina.

The human ego is always judging and creating big expectations.

It puts a lot of strain on how we identify ourselves in the world.

We are always looking back to the past for reference while trying to get somewhere in the future.

Your ability to relinquish yourself from the ego is best achieved in your ability to become present.

The most common form of achieving this is through mediation.

Successful mediation is being able to watch your thinking without judgement while realising you are not actually your thinking.

It sounds kind of kooky, but mediation is essentially mindfulness focused breathing.

Our egos are always (always) looking for ways to be in control of any thought or situation.

Mediation is the antithesis of what the ego is trying to achieve – which is complete control.

Essentially mediation is being “aware” and present.

It is  relinquishing control and expectation of an outcome.

 

Consistency Provides Clarity

Nothing helps to create a belief in yourself better than being consistent in what you do.

If you are painting “now and then” and when you “feel like it” you are a hobbyist.

If you want to achieve a critical level in your creativity you must be consistent in the way you schedule your work.

Being consistent will provide you with the ultimate form of clarity.

If, however you are only painting “now and then” it becomes difficult to discover your true voice as an artist.

Inconsistency makes it harder to distinguish clarity in your work.

Too much inconsistency can lead to trusting yourself less in being able to get basic tasks done.

Your ability to anticipate and achieve small goals become neglected and you only ever oscillate between doing “nothing at all” and a low performance.

When you adapt a strong mindset for consistency, it will pay major dividends outside your art studio.

Consider how your customers and collectors will benefit.

Your reputation of always providing a quality product, on time with a regular follow ups won’t be a challenge for you.

It will be a default habit you never really have to think about because it is an unconscious work pattern.

 

Make It Easy To Start

The biggest distraction for not getting much work done as an artist is due to it being too difficult to get started.

It can be a real challenge to get going when you start every session setting up or not being organised.

If you have to go digging around for materials, or clean up from a previous session, if can be very demotivating.

So much creative time is lost when you have your productivity transmission constantly stuck in reverse.

The biggest tip I can provide is to set up your working environment in such a way that all you need to do is wander into your studio, turn on a light and get working.

When you’ve completed that session, just spend a few moments clearing up.

Prepare for the next session before switching off the light and existing the studio.

 

Get To No Quicker

In my experience I have found that better productivity comes from attending less.

Most of what is associated to time management issues is simply an inability to say “No”.

If you are already working at full capacity, reduce your obligations.

Start saying no to further invitations.

You are not offending someone if you are honest about why you cannot or do not wish to attend.

I personally do not make excuses as to why I will not be attending an event.

My reasoning is open and honest – I do not want to go, I have other priorities.

 

The Art Of Subtracting

More is less. Less is more.

Watching the news does not make your wiser.

It makes you more overwhelmed.

It’s important to be aware, but not overwhelmed.

Negative information is useless information, a time sap and does nothing for your agenda.

Watching the news is learning more about the failures of the world.

You’ll learn a whole bunch more from your own mistakes – hence why your time is better spent in creative activity.

Make those mistakes and build a reference database.

Turning off social media notifications will make you less reactive to so much unnecessary “uncritical” agendas.

The same goes with email.

If you look closely enough, you will see that the constant feeling you need to check your email or respond to it, is falling prey to someone else’s agenda – not your own.

Another example of subtracting to multiply, is use one (two max) avenues to generate traffic to your art.

If you go to three avenues you are bordering on ineffectiveness.

Subtraction creates quality additions – financially, mentally, and emotionally.

 

Environmentally Friendly

Light is the most important factor to having a healthy environment to work in.

Try to use the most natural light you can.

Low quality artificial lighting can disrupt your perception of colours on the canvas as you work.

In terms of audio ambience – for me personally, loud music is a must.  

However, you may discover that total quietness is better for you.

If you live with people that are prone to consistent negative outbursts or are riddled with ongoing hang ups, you’ll more than likely need to consider moving out.

Or get them to move out.

If this is not feasible, consider getting your best work done when they are asleep or at work.

 

Allow Yourself To Make Mistakes

I don’t actively seek to make mistakes in my work.

Although, I do know from having made lots of them, it has helped to develop my own voice as an artist on the canvas.

Quite often I can see where my biggest challenges are going to be in a piece before I even commence.

As a result, I am comfortable in knowing I am going to screw up somewhere – it’s just a matter of when.

Being ready for it, allows me to embrace it and proactively tackle it.  

The point I am making is don’t actively try to avoid making mistakes.

Additionally, don’t be concerned if you do make them as they can be quite beneficial.

Our wisdom and experience are the result of having made mistakes in life.

So, the tip is to embrace them and be grateful for what it can teach you.

Go forth and create!

Carl
Artist/Teacher/Qualified Dancing Fool

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