Over the years I have been asked how do you become an artist? Or I dont have a creative bone in my body, I wish I did!
After teaching over 5000 new to art mature age students, here are a few tips I have shared on how you can become an artist at any stage of your life.
Do you knit, sew, home decorate or enjoy cooking for dinner parties? Then you are half way there!
The challenge is most people dont believe they can paint, nor should they bother having a go. They really believe they dont have an artistic bone in their body but wish they did! It dawned on me that most people never had the opportunity to be exposed to art through school, especially pre-70s. Art was something you did at your desk for one hour a week and included toilet paper rolls and paste. Furthermore art was never an acceptable job, or even household hobby .. housework needed to be done, children raised, meals cooked, jobs and lives were very structured.
But is was these very household tasks that budding artists delved into with pride. Sewing, knitting and crocheting were the staple for creative housewives. Out of necessity, it became the opportunity to design, create, craft and color match. Making curtains, bed covers, cushions, through to home decorating using flowers, wallpaper and timber panels are all forms of at home creativity. Cooking creatively, cake decorating, dinner parties with lovely table settings, Christmas trees, school fancy dress costumes .. all the trademark of the at-home artist!
It wasnt untiI the era of macrame, in the mid 1970s, that the housewife was allowed to experiment with their creativity .. after all it was for the home, inexpensive and not considered a self indulgent treat.
Step 2: Start a class, no skill required!
A friend of mine Trevor Platt who I used to rent some studio time for my classes and then he ran classes in my studio was fantastic at introducing art to mature age entrants 🙂
My mum was 60 and admiring some paintings laying along my studio wall and sighed commenting ‘I wish I could paint like that’. I was surprised! I never knew she was at all interested but sure enough this was my real lesson from tip 1 as mum sewed, knitted and dinner partied all my life! I said to mum, these are first time painters, their very first painting ever, ladies just like you – join! And she did .. 20 years later mum is still painting every day. She has had some local exhibitions at the RSL and sells hand painted cards; I do giggle when she exclaimed ‘I feel so guilty, hours pass while I paint and then realize I am neglecting some housework or cooking on time. Is this a bad thing?’ Mum .. NO ITS NOT!
This saved her retirement life as both my brother and I were becoming increasingly worried at the time, instead of mum sitting around with no stimulation she had found a new energy for the next 30+ years of her life! Mum didnt miss out on being an artist, she better appreciated the previous 40 years as a mother and housewife was actually part of her creative self and together we have found a shared interest which is a beautiful treat.
Step 3: Practice and ignore the naysayers
OK facts are .. getting better takes practice. I often explain its like playing a guitar: if someone hands you a guitar and says play a tune, you couldnt! After a couple of lessons, you can pluck out an easy ditty, a year later some good song structure and so on. Art is the same. Day one compared to day one year is vastly different, eye-hand coordination kicks in, color knowledge, flow and form becomes natural. In the art-world it is called ‘miles on canvas’ and there is no escaping that rule.
The lady across the road has been an at home casual painter for 10 years, with all 4 children now at school she decided to start TAFE art classes. Wow the difference of a year on canvas is extraordinary, with some classes and guidance her work has leaped forward. However beware the naysayers .. no matter how good you get there are plenty of people who wont like your art, full stop. It does feel great to get compliments and sell work, its very fulfilling but it is also a long time between drinks and success.
MY TIP: Some of my hard lessons learnt
- Do the art you want, not what the naysayers want.
- Unless they are a constructive critic that helps your skill, ignore the critic and dont stop!
- Be true to whats in your head and heart, make what you want – dont let others get in your head on what they want otherwise you only dislike the finished product.
- Meh, dont bother showing non-creatives work in progress, they simply cant see the vision.
- Your only challenge .. is not being perfect but to have happy accidents along the way, that is when your best results occur!
Tip 4: Be whatever artist you want to be
Where you decide to stretch as an artist becomes your choice. Becoming a professional artist may take a long time of practice, dedication and commitment to exposure. Being the artist you want to be is a wonderful daily experience, its not a competition, you dont have to do things the same or as good. Many of the most recognized artists are not necessarily ‘good’, what they have achieved is being true from the inside through to the outside.
Remember creating art is creating your version of what you want to say.
Personally I have been through the above journey and at 53 years old I am in a great place to in my artistic career .. on my terms, doing what I want, at a pace I want, making whatever and however I want.
Its a great place to be and as usual, always the artist ..