Artists share their most helpful advice
A creative trot. We’ve all been there: we crumple up pieces of paper and stare at a menacing, blinking cursor. Fear and self-doubt are (unfortunately) often part of the creative process.
For a little boost of inspiration and comfort, we’ve rounded up a few words of wisdom that our artists have shared or passed on from teachers and mentors. Have fun below.
“The best advice I’ve ever received was to always be honest in my work. This was part of an ongoing discussion throughout my undergraduate studies and at the time I didn’t quite understand what it meant. I had no reason to believe that people were not honest in their work, but as I developed as an artist I saw examples that this was not the case. This idea guided me through many paintings. It taught me to trust myself and my instincts, and if I ever went in the wrong direction, that pulled me back.” – Elyce Abrams
“Do as much work as possible, take a lot of risks and solve problems accordingly. This advice comes from a variety of sources; My favorite professors backed up the overall approach, and when I happened to come across a titled list immaculate Heart College Art Department Rules (popularized by John Cage but written by a nun, Sister Corita Kent), I tackled it right away in my studio and felt 98% agreed (the minimalist in me shies away from “save it all”). I know that this shot was also inspired by Francoise Gilot’s My Life with Picasso. Picasso was a studio friend!”
“If I spend enough time practicing, my vision will come out naturally. For me, practice can be synonymous with observation. My eyes are constantly studying (sometimes into an obsessive habit). In addition, I see my field of vision as a moving work of art in its own right, which I can change by blurring my eyes, cropping with my hands or perceiving color connections. The more time I spend in the studio, the more I carry this artistic gaze into the rest of my life. The more my daily life reflects art, the more my studio practice reflects my field of vision.” – Hazel Miller
“Squinting. Squinting reduces the amount of light entering your pupils and the amount of information your brain is given to create an image. It’s incredibly useful for simplifying and then identifying colors, and I do it all the time.” – Michael Van
“‘Go after things with a big bat.’ I was doing a pottery and training course in Ireland, where I had trained as a potter, and this quote was on the wall next to me. I’ve definitely gotten good advice from a lot of people over the years. A mentor I had for a while always talked about using my own skills well and that was important for my career.” – Kevin Callahan
“When I first started painting I was very insecure and unsure of what to paint. I came across a quote from Jim Jarmusch about originality that probably saved my life. I realized that every creative person takes inspiration from others and mixes them with their ideas. Take everything you love about other people’s work and make it your own – and eventually your style will evolve from there.” – Johanna Bad
“I always remembered something a teacher in the Netherlands said. It was in Dutch (“toeval is wat je toevalt”), but roughly speaking it means coincidences are the things that happen to you or fall into your lap, the things to work with. It helps me keep an open and curious mind.” – mike tracy
Roos van der Vliet
“That must have been the moment when my art school teacher, Rinke Nijburg, told me to paint with acrylic paint instead of oil paint. Although I didn’t really feel like it because I thought the way I wanted to paint could only be achieved with oil, I did as he told me. And it turned out to be exactly what I needed. This color did exactly what I wanted! I could paint in multiple layers, wet and dry, with soft focus, or paint very sharply, and the colors would stay bright instead of merging together until the entire canvas was a dirty brownish color (which always happened at some point). which used to frustrate me).
“Although my decision to paint in acrylic is still sometimes questioned (which annoys me quite a bit), I think it’s the perfect medium for me. What I can do with acrylics I could never do with oil, neither with a pencil, nor with watercolors, nor with ballpoint pens. Everyone should find their own perfect medium in which to work. I’m still grateful that my teacher encouraged me to at least try it and break down my prejudices.” – Roos van der Vliet
“My professor said in my senior year of university (a few days before the Graduate’s Degree show), ‘Graduations are like bags of chips, everyone has one, it depends what you do with it.’” – Andrew Weir
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