This past week while at the Illustration Master Class in Amherst, Massachusetts, I was posited the question of what is the best advice I could give a young/new artist in their development of skills and career. This is a difficult question as every artist comes to their art with varied needs, but by far the best and most effective answer is to be prolific. Make art. Make tons of it. Make it all the time.
Easier said than done, correct? Of course if an artist could make twenty masterpieces quickly they wouldn’t hesitate to begin. But masterpieces, or even artistic successes, do not line up nor flow smoothly from one to another – they are sporadic, fleeting, and fraught with difficulties. Some come easily, others after only weeks of tortured modifications. Success is only achieved in hindsight, with the artist already moving onto the next project.
There are no paths to retrace to drink deeply from a well of masterful creation. The intoxicating brew which formed one masterpiece tastes bitter and foul when tried again. It is a trait of creation which drives me into bouts of near depression. Without the knowledge of a path, what advice can I offer to young talent?
To instill the desire to walk a path. For it is only once on a path that an artist may journey into an unexpected masterpiece. To hesitate, to become too precious over every action, every shape, every color, is to wither in the light of the start.
Nearly all of my early successes in illustration and painting came about because I was willing to journey onto paths of varied destinations and quantity. I did not ‘prepare’ for these adventures, but rather embraced them headlong, expecting to work out any and all problems in the moment. Being fearless is a major part of being prolific. Try something new, embrace the difficult while at the same time standing on ground you have some familiarity with. If you are great with animals, use them as a structure support to a narrative, hang your figures all around them. If you are great with color, make a statement with those design choices; Irene Gallo showcased numerous color themes on her Facebook page these past months.
By moving forward in constant motion, you will never be left behind, and may some day find yourself leading the pack…
Below is a sample of my moving forward in drawing, week after week, month after month, year after year. I have challenged and traveled hundreds of paths – some are dead ends, most I find contentment with, but a few lead to inspired images. From small abstracts, to rough concepts, to finished preliminary drawings I am constantly exploring, experimenting and reveling in the act of creation.
Pick yourself up, walk a path, and see where it may lead you today.
As Dori from Finding Nemo wisely stated – ‘Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…’
Thank you. Timing is everything. I needed to hear this. Light and Laughter, Elizabeth Leggett
What do the black borders on the images represent? They're too small for me to make out…are these those that went on to be painted?
How many of these images were created in what time period? Do these five images each represent a year or another time period?
Bizzarre how appropriate it is in my current circumstances, after bad news and more bad news from my efforts at submitting paintngs for awards and competitions, and no sales or even recognition after decades of trying. Maybe I'll keep swimming for a while longer, then I'll decide whether to drown.
Likely those are artifacts of old jpg files. These are just screen grabs from my folder of drawings. Thus the multiple duplications to some images as I reformatted and color corrected them.
No particular time period, just organized by name/title and sampled from ~ 15 years of digital files in my drawings folder. I have another ~ 10 years of earlier work which has never been scanned! These five pages are only a part of my drawing output…
No drowning ever David. Keep going. You will find a place for your work.
I am sorry to hear of your difficulties David, but no sales for decades? With the internet, hopefully you can connect with the right audience that will support your art. Keep on searching and keep on painting…wishing you the best.
How do you organize your artwork? Do you just put all the final images into one big folder?
This speaks to me because I tend to think too much: To instill the desire to walk a path. For it is only once on a path that an artist may journey into an unexpected masterpiece. To hesitate, to become too precious over every action, every shape, every color, is to wither in the light of the start.
This is wonderful, thank you. Just keep making… just keep making… Don't be afraid of dead-ends. I often find myself disappointed because I spent “x” amount of time on a project that I don't like in the end, so I don't start another. Just need to keep drawing, though.
Thank you. <3