I can hear you… “But I’m not an artist,” you might be saying, “I suck at art!”
“Phooey!” is what I say to you! If you can make a mark with something on anything, then you are an artist.
A dude called Joseph Beuys agrees. He said, “Everyone is an artist.” Wait? That’s what I said. But he also said it, so there.
Pablo Picasso said, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once one grows up.” This is what I will help you realize.
The first thing to know is that Art is actually pretty easy, and you can definitely do it.
Try this - anytime. No time like the present (or right after this speech)! Pick up a paint brush, get some paint, or a marker or pencil. Get paper and make a mark.
Secondly, practice makes perfect. Nope. Nope! NOPE!! Wipe that word - perfect - from your brain. Perfect is unachievable. No one and nothing is perfect — perfectly imperfect, perhaps. In fact, I say we remove the word from existence altogether. Instead, we’ll say: “ Practice makes better.” This is a simple concept. The more you do something, the better you will get at that something.
Talent is great. If you got it, use it, but practise is what really makes artists awesome… or allows anyone to be good at anything. When you were a baby, you didn’t know how to walk. You had to practice, bit by bit - first, you lifted your head and discovered your arms and legs and tried crawling. Then, you stood up (and fell down), all before even taking your first step. You had to practice — and fall — a lot! But you did it. Are you perfect at it?
No! Trick question. There is no such thing as perfect, remember?! Are you better at walking than when you were a baby? Of course! I know sometimes I trip, even fall, and I most definitely walk into loads of things, and that’s okay. I try not to be a klutz because I just want to do better than before. And it’s the same with art.
“You were born an Original. Don’t die a copy.” John Mason
Incidentally, this is the third important thing to remember… when I say better, I mean better than YOU did before. Not better than anyone else. Be YOU. Do art that YOU love; how you LOVE to do it. (Okay, maybe at school you must do some art you don’t love, and you may have to do it a certain way in order to get marks, but you can still learn from it, even if you are learning what you DON’T like.) Learning what you don’t like is just as important as knowing what you DO like. Then, it’s simple. If you like something, do more of it and do it often. Try changing it a bit. If you don’t like a mark, cover it up. Try again. No big deal.
So back to that that Joseph Beuys dude, who said, “Everyone is an artist,” he meant that being an artist means being creative in whatever way is available to you and feels natural to YOU.
We’re on a roll, here, so now you are ready to Embrace Ugly. What?! I repeat embrace UGLY! In fact, make ugly art on purpose. What?! Why?! Note how it makes you feel. Has the world ended? Nope. Did you learn something. Yep. You learned what you don’t like. Now, cover it up and keep going. Guess what? You might even like what happened. That happens a lot in art. I’m a gonna tell you a little secret… ssshhhh…. Listen up and tell absolutely everyone: a lot, if not most great artists and stunning art happens by mistake.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and make them often. If you aren’t failing, you are doing the Art wrong (which is essentially the only way to do Art wrong). It’s how we learn new things and make great art even better each time.
And, if you are loving your ugly art and happy to make mistakes, then you will not be afraid to take risks in you’re art. Ask, “what if…?” Try the thing. If you don’t like it, cover it up and try a different thing.
“But art materials are expensive, and we should not waste them.” That can be true, indeed. Use materials you don’t worry about using up. Think dollar store. There are so many excellent art-making items that are affordable… you can buy ‘fancy smancy’ art-shop materials when you have built your confidence and reframed your beliefs about making art.
Finally, and this last guideline is by far the most important one… Have fun. Art IS fun. Play. Experiment. As Gord Downie sings, “Looking for a place to happen, making stops along the way.” Enjoy the process. Don’t worry so much about the outcome. As Picasso and I say,“Learn rules like a pro, so you can break them like a champ.”
“The artist is not a special kind of person; rather each person is a special kind of artist,” says Ananda Coomaraswamy. And the best news is “ You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have, said Maya Angelou.
In summary, let’s review: To be an artist, do art. Easy peasy. Everybody is an artist.
Go! Make art, Human!
Quote Sources: 1. Joseph Beuys; 2. Pablo Picasso - bit.ly/3KFksUNg; 3. John Mason - book cover; 4. Gord Downie - N. Schneider original photography; 5. Pablo Picasso - https://artjournalist.com/acrylic-paint-brushes/; 6. Ananda Coomaraswamy - bit.ly/3m6CRzF; 7. Maya Angelou - Flickr: York College ISLGP