I am attaching two files. One is also posted below but figure more people will see it up here.
Ten Stop Signs on Creativity Road.
The second is Six tips on Portfolio Development.
They are both at the bottom of this post.
I am Marty Coleman. I have been a practicing artist all my adult life (I am 54 now). I have emphasized drawing and photography for most of that time, with an education in drawing, painting and printmaking.
I have learned many things over the years and I wanted to impart a few of them to you.
1. Love the process of creating your art just as much as the final result.
The reason? If you don't love the process you eventually will find ways to avoid creating the art. I use to do very photo realistic drawings. I spent hours in the studio with a slide projector, in the dark. I loved the final results but didn't like the process and as a result found ways to avoid the studio. I switched to drawing people from life because I found I loved the process of being with them, finding out about them, discovering them as I drew. I couldn't wait to get into the studio with a model or client.
2. Be courageous enough to admit what you love as an artist.
If you love to paint trees, there is someone out there, maybe a spouse or a parent or a fellow artist who thinks you should have something else for a subject. If you love bugs there is someone who doesn't understand why. If you like using felt and grass for your material, someone thinks you are loony. If you like doing outdoor sculpture that will fall apart in a week, someone thinks you are wasting your time.
For me to be a unique artist I have to admit what was of interest to me, what I loved. What I loved (and still love) is women. I love photographing them, drawing them and painting them. I like them as my subject. I like exploring who they are, what they think about, how they grow. They inspire me, motivate me and cause me to create art continually because I love my subject.
I admit that. That is what I love as an artist. Someone meanwhile thinks that means I am sexist. Someone else thinks I am a dirty old man. Yet another thinks I am just playing it safe. I have to have the courage, in the face of those critics, to say this is what I love and this is what I am going to pay attention to.
3. Avoid thinking your work is precious.
When I use to teach I would notice many a student was petrified to put their pencil to the paper. They were worried about making a mistake. My exercise for them to get over that was for them to draw something, usually for about twenty minutes. Then I would have them rip the piece of paper from the pad, crumple it up and throw it away. MAN, did they hate that. But it taught them their work was just marks on a piece of paper. It was practice, it was training. You don't keep recordings of all your piano classes, do you? You don't keep videos of all your ballet training do you? Then why do you think you need to treat this piece of paper as if it belongs in the Louvre?
What about when it isn't practice, when it is the real deal? In that case your mental exercise in not thinking your work is precious is seen in your allowing the work to be sold, to be shipped off, to disappear from your life. You let it out of your hands and say 'it will go and live it's life. It might end up in an attic or a museum, in a garage sale or a collector's temperature controlled gallery, I don't know. But it is worth the risk to let it go out in the world, just as with a child or a sailing ship or a space ship. You have to let your art take risks in where it goes.
4. Know when you are making excuses for not creating your work.
This is easy enough. Are you not creating your work? Too much stress at your day job? Health issues? Not enough time? Too hot or cold to go outside and paint? Not enough money? Tomorrow I will post the first 5 of my 10 stop signs on Creativity Road that will address these excuses. And yes, make no mistake. They are excuses.
5. Understand that criticism is from one particular person with one particular point of view.
There is no such thing as universal criticism. There is a particular view and a particular person who is doing it. The question for you is 2 fold. One, do you know what point of view the critic is coming from? Two, do you agree with the criticism. If you know the answer to the first you can take seriously or take lightly the critique. If you do abstract work and the critic or curator is a fan of representational, then when they say 'I don't like it, it should be this or that' you can dismiss it.
If, however, the critic is known for appreciating and understanding abstract art, then you might want to listen to what he or she has to say.
Regarding the second point. When you here a critique, no matter where it comes from the best approach is to consider it. Do you see their point? To be reactive or thin-skinned isn't going to help you. To be defensive isn't going to help you. What will help you is to consider the points. let them stew for a while in your mind. Consider them. If, after some contemplation, you agree then those points are no longer from outside you. They are no longer the critic's points. They are now yours. You have thought of them. You have seen something new about your work. You will take those ideas and move forward. They are yours now.
II have posted a essay I wrote titled 'The 10 Stop Signs on Creativity Road'. Look for it below in the discussion thread.
You can find out more about me and my work by going to my website, http://www.martycoleman.com