What does every artist need?
Having the practical resources is only part of the process of creating art. Whether you have the right pens/pencils/paint is often not the reason for having that blank sketchbook or unfulfilled gem of an idea in the back of your mind.
Being the purveyor of art and craft materials yes we can supply you with anything and everything needed for virtually any project but so little attention is given to your other needs, the sort that you can't often put your finger on, the sort you can't sell!
So here are the other bits that you will need to create that don't always involve spending your dosh. So here goes, the things you need to make sure you fulfil your potential in your artistic endeavours...
A Creative Environment
Let there be Light
There's are reason why artists tend to occupy buildings with lots of natural light. Not only is it great for viewing your work but it lifts the mood. Studios or rooms with little of no natural light tend to dampen your mood and creativity. Not everyone is the same but a comfortable, spacious light filled environment tends to work best for most artists. Large north facing windows are best as this give a large amount of diffused light without harsh reflections and shadows. You can always buy daylight bulbs that mimic the look of natural daylight with a 6000 - 6500k range.
For most of us, we're not going to change where we work, but we can change aspects of our studio. Making your space comfortable can include simple fixes like the decor, turning up or sorting out the heating. Buying a new chair, easel, table etc to make it your own can make it a more appealing place to want to create.
Something everyone can do is get organised. I'm not a fan of the chaotic studio space and know that for most people having a clear, tidy workspace is best for reducing stress and increasing your creative flow . If you spend 5 minutes hunting for a tube of paint you know you have seen somewhere, it's hardly likely to foster a feeling of calm. Check out pinterest for some great ideas on organising your studio space and colours. Click here.
Your phone and laptop are potentially the biggest hinderance to your work. The biggest problem is maintaining focus and momentum when you have lots of things going on in social media and this means you are less productive. I use them both but restrict the use to certain times of the day and don't have them on in the background.
The toughest one to find and to write about. The main thing is to make time for it. Keep a specific journal or notebook and try to generate lots of new ideas in 15 minute sessions and also keep that journal to hand if one comes to you when you aren't near your materials.
Get out of the habit of visiting the same places and websites, inspiration can come from leftfield and seemingly have nothing to do with art. Don't rely too much on the internet as this doesn't engage all the senses that inspiration can come from. Doodle, go for a walk, find your internal headspace but most of all, don't be afraid of failure. Checkout the best websites for artists HERE
Ideas are rarely fully formed in a Eureka moment of impassioned creativity. They emerge, germinate, grow and are refined over time to become something far better than when they were first conceived. Be aware of this and always search for a better angle on your idea.
"Push Yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you"
If you love creating art then this shouldn't be a problem. It's much easier motivating ourselves to do the things we love, although for some the process is more of a roller coaster than for others.
It can be frustrating and infuriating and some artists I have met don't even enjoy creating it. Like Jackson Pollock they see it as "necessary" a way to express themselves even if the process isn't a pleasant one. For most of us though, we don't have to be the tortured artist and we can enjoy the process as well as the result of our efforts.
Many people who procrastinate are actually perfectionists. The feeling is, I can't do it perfectly, so why bother at all? Overcoming your need for things to be "perfect" will be part of your journey to being a person who gets things done. Embrace and appreciate the imperfect, the idiosyncratic nature of what you create and you will free up the wasted time procrastinating.
There are lots of ways to motivate yourself to do the things you want to do such as
1. Set a goal or target
This can be as simple as finishing a piece within a week or creating a body of artwork. The main this is to break up big goals into smaller, less intimidating ones. Keep reviewing them at specific points.
2. Tell People about it
this is a sure fire way to commit yourself to finishing something when you have friends and colleagues asking about it.
3. Reward yourself
Crossing the finish line isn't much fun if nothing changes as a consequence. Make the change, treat yourself even if it's just a cup of tea and a biscuit!
4. Involve Others
Friends, relatives and teachers can all offer valuable input and help you with your artwork. Feedback is a critical part of improving your craft and most will only have positive things to say. People are different but from my perspective working on your own for any length of time increases those feelings of self doubt.
"What would you do if you weren't afraid"
Fear is rational in many cases but rarely when it concerns the creative process. Being criticised openly is what most people fear the most. Those dreams of being amongst lots of people and discovering your are naked are common and all founded on most our our fears of vulnerability. This is why I tend to love the people that just don't give a monkeys.
Improving confidence to be brave will make a big difference to many artists.
1. Focus on yourself
Look to improve your own work without comparing yourself to others. Commit yourself to learning your craft and making the best work you can make.
2. Enjoy the process
For me, drawing is as much about the process of laying down an image as it is coming up with the end result. From everything you do, you can learn how to do it better.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
When you see improvement and you compare new work to old, this will feed your confidence. Keep going, persevere and this will help your confidence to be courageous with your work!
So by no means the definitive list of what you, as an artist, needs. Everyone has a different way of working but the main thing for me is to make "New" the new norm. Mix things up and keep your brain active and engaged by changing things around you.
Changing things will feel uncomfortable at first, but great pieces of work never come from Artists working within their comfort zone. Try a new style today.. You just might surprise yourself.