“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”– Mark Twain
Being inspired to make art always came very easy to me. I have experimented with many styles in my career but it all comes down to the excitement and the need to put brush on canvas. If you ask what inspires me, I’d have a hard time answering that, colours, mess, shapes……something beautiful? Maybe yes. I love composition, I especially love light. The feeling of building up paint layers, mixing and blending colours, the feeling of letting go and seeing your artwork come to life by emotion, no words can explain this.
So here are 10 tips that I use to keep me going everyday. Enjoy 🙂
Dedicate yourself 30 minutes a day to draw or paint. Have a clean and organised area to work and make sure all of your materials are ready ex; paint brushes in order, pencils are tidy, sketchbooks are neatly stacked and kettle’s boiled for a cuppa. 30 minutes could turn into 3 hours and a lot can be achieved within this time. Sometimes it’s hard to get into something like creating art especially after working an 8-hour shift, but believe me, once you start, you kind of get caught up in your element and that 30 minutes will feel like 30 seconds. It gets easier the more you do it.
HAVE A VISION
From January this year, I decided that I would focus my creative efforts on painting British wildlife mixed with loose abstract backgrounds. I had previously been working on large abstract pieces and experimenting with textures and techniques. I had spent many years drawing animals so I thought I would combine the realistic approach of a subject with a modern-contemporary background using specific colour palettes. I love texture! Creating a grunge-like 3D effect using a limited palette really sparks my creative juices. I want to be the artist that has a recognisable style, and when people see the artwork, they would know that I created it. I want to carry this notion throughout every subject matter that I paint now and in the future. Depending on your level, it’s important to have a vision of what you want. Do you want to draw a glass of water every day for a month? Do you want to paint wildlife? Do you want to create doodles in a small sketchbook? What do you want to draw or paint? It’s important to hold onto your dreams and not let anyone tell you otherwise.
POST YOUR WORK
Posting your work on social media can be a great motivational tool. The chances are that your friends, family and others will like your work and encourage you. When I returned from the UK after Christmas, I started working on a painting of a kingfisher. I love animals and I’ve drawn a lot of them over the years and I was inspired to create a vibrant subject that owned the canvas. I wanted the subject’s colours to fly around the background then the viewers eyes to travel around the canvas and bring them directly back to the beautiful blue bird. I used acrylic paints on a deep edge canvas and my vision of how I wanted to portray this magnificent bird naturally evolved after each paint layer was added.
Around halfway through finishing this painting I posted a progress picture on my Instagram story only to receive the message that every artist dreams of, “I’m interested in this, how much is it?” I couldn’t believe it. At only 50% completion, someone was asking me a price for my first acrylic painting!
After a few weeks, I had posted my next artwork titled ‘Robin’, on my Facebook page. An 8 x 8-inch acrylic painting on a deep edge canvas which became quite popular with my social media followers. A customer had contacted me asking how much it was, I sent her details and she said she would think about it. 2 weeks later, she emailed me and was ready to purchase.
The cherry on top is getting a call or email from a potential buyer when they see your art. This also inspires me to create, knowing that there’s a place in someone’s home for my art to hang, a creation that I’ve made by my hands that someone wants to buy, really is the ultimate feeling and depending on where my art takes me, I hope to write a blog post about selling art in the future.
I’m a primary school art teacher here in Greece, Athens. I teach between ages 9-12 and I also run the after-school activity club, Fine Art. I’ve been teaching for the last 5 years. Not only is it such a rewarding job, the children also inspire me to create. It forces me to learn and become knowledgeable on the subject. My lessons are very practical, I enjoy simply guiding the students and showing them methods that I’ve learnt over the years as an artist. I love seeing their progression and their dedication in my classes. My enthusiasm shines through when I teach, the students see and feel it and they all produce beautiful work.
This brings me to my next student, a person very dear to me, my mother. Around the same time, I started painting the Kingfisher, my mother had begun her creative journey. I nagged and teased her for a few months, asking when she was going to start painting. She’s always had an eye for colour and arrangement within the house and she enjoys knitting, so I sent her a basic acrylic paint set with a small canvas and she got to work. She’s currently focusing on painting flowers from photos that she takes from her walks in the British countryside of Somerset. I always knew that she had an artistic skill and that she could express herself within art. So far, she’s completed 8 paintings and she’s developing her skills as an artist more and more. You can follow more of her awesome work on her Instagram page.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND PRACTICE
And keep practicing! I’m always practicing and trying to better myself with my craft. Sketching really helps, it’s the foundation of painting. It teaches you to observe light and composition especially drawing from life. I encourage any artist beginner or advanced to draw from life as much as possible, and try and draw what you see not what you think you see. Drawing from photos is also good practice too! If you want to get good at something you’ve got to dedicate yourself to it every day. In my last blog post I mentioned that I took an online oil painting course.
It’s so easy for us to get bogged down. It happens to me too, not quite as much as when I was starting out but it happens. For me, I could see another artist’s work and feel “I’m not good enough” or “Am I painting the right subject matter?” As I mentioned, we’re all learning and nobody has it all figured out. The people that say they do are lying (sorry to say) as long as you are progressing and more importantly enjoying the process, you’re on the right track! Stay positive and keep creating.
GET A WEBSITE
When you have several pieces of work, it’s great to post them on social media and have them on your phones photo library. Now you’re ready for a website! There are lots of different options you can take, I may have to make a seperate blog post about it with more details. I use WordPress and with the help of my brother at feartech.co.uk, we’ve created this one. Having your own website has many benefits, it shows yourself as a professional and has everything accessible such as a gallery of your work, contact page, about page, blog, shop and more!
They say that most artists are introverts. I think I’m the opposite. I love meeting people (when I have to leave the studio) and interacting. When we meet new people, we all know that first impressions go a long way. I’ve been told that my positivity and smile rub off on people (how nice). As soon as I’m introduced, in the back of my mind I’m waiting for them to ask what I do for a living. “I’m a teacher etc. and I’m also….an artist!” and right there, I have a business card with my name, phone number and website details with a picture of my art on which I subtly hand them if I’m feeling the connection. I’ve done this many times and I’ve received social media followings and even commissions! That’s my little trick. Now, the main reason to meet people at events, parties etc is because we spend a lot of time in our studios and it’s generally nice to go out into the world and be a human!
With today’s technology, smart phones have great cameras. Take photos of plants, flowers, landscapes or anything that sparks your creativity. There are no better reference photos than your own. If you paint tigers in Africa and you live in the UK then don’t worry, maybe you can visit the zoo with your camera? Reference photos are also handy, a lot of my recent work is taken from reference photos from Pixabay and Pexels and modified as my own. These sites are copyright free and they have almost everything you can imagine.
LISTEN TO A PODCAST
This is one of my favourite tools to get inspired. YouTube has many podcasts available and I love listening to other artists talk about their work and career. It doesn’t have to be art-related, motivational podcasts or other interests you might have can work. I also listen to music when I paint, I like epic movie soundtracks!