Friday, November 13, 2015


I am fortunate that at various shows and workshops I receive the compliment on how good my work is.  (In fact, I have become somewhat of a compliment junkie)  For some reason the last time I received this compliment I was struck immediately with the thought, "I have no excuse not to be good."  The reason being that it is simply common sense that the more you practice the better you get.  I mean weren't we all taught this as children? I can still hear the voice in my head from various adults as a child saying, "practice makes perfect".  So why, is it is so hard to accept it as an adult now? When I tell people, well I've been painting the equivalent of a full time job for 8 years so I better be pretty good, they look at me with disbelief.  I don't know every one's story and I know that a lot of the time we tend to idealize people into this rare ball of talent that we possibly cannot attain and will never be........that somehow they were just blessed with this and they were magically picked by fate to succeed. I am all for magic, mystery, fate and the unknown and I know we are all born with different abilities and talents that I think are predetermined by whatever cause you want to call it........but I also know is that if you spend over 16,000 hours (that's 40 hours a week for 8 years) working on a skillset, you are bound to get better! I'm sure you are familiar with the 10,000 hour mastery theory? Now, I would not call myself a master of course but I've put in 1 1/2 times that amount so I better be pretty darn good.

The problem I think often is that people are not putting in consistent chunks of time to get good at what they do.  You have to be honest with yourself. How many real hours are clocking in with painting?  Because that's where it counts.  Don't confuse artistic activities like straightening up the studio, ordering supplies, facebooking, looking at references, watching art tutorials, reading blogs, toning canvases (well I think you get the point) as CREATING ART!

And yeah, it sucks. I know it sucks.  I wish it came easier. I wish I could be spectacular without all the effort!  ;)  It's hard stepping up to that easel every day and painting. Sometimes it even feels like it gets harder and harder, but there is no way around it, I've got to actually CREATE in order to create.  So I think the 2 top qualities for an artist to develop are COURAGE and HONESTY. 

It takes courage for me to create and frankly half the time I trick myself into it by saying well I don't give a shit how this turns out, so I don't chicken out.  The second thing that is difficult is to be honest. I know when I need to try setting something up for the 10th time and I know when I didn't give it my all and when I was fearful or lazy in a painting, where I didn't take the risk. All of this courage and honesty is alone what will make the paintings better.  I wanted to share some thoughts on this because sometimes I think it's too easy to think that artists who put out a lot of work, or who seem so confident while they are painting don't experience fear. 

So I encourage you today to have the COURAGE to create.

Some of my favorite books related to this topic:

The Courage to Create by Rollo May :

War of Art by Steven Pressfield:

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho:

Some paintings I've recently completed.