Monday, December 3, 2007

Judge Not

Here is the second installment of my ebook "All at Once, A Practically Instant Guide to Creativity"

Written for my students at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts, it is useful for artists at all levels. The exercises, if followed, will help you find your own unique vision.

All at Once
a practically instant guide to creativity, part 2

If there is no right way to be an artist, there is also no wrong way.

There is a right way for your friend to be an artist, a right way for your cousin to be an artist, and a right way for you to be an artist. The only thing you can say for sure is that these different right ways will never be exactly the same.

When Mr. Esteemed Workshop Genius of the Month starts telling you his way to create art is the only way, a good response is to nod, smile, and think about what you need at the grocery store. Good teachers help students clear debris away from the entrances to their own paths.

Critique groups can be helpful, but they can lead to creative block. Artists who criticize the work of others may feel a familiar pointing finger when they return to their own easels. When commenting on the work of others, be sure to emphasize what you like about the pieces.

There are many audiences for art and many styles. If you don’t like a person’s work, there’s a good chance he or she does not like yours--different brushstrokes for different art folks. You can still go out to lunch together. Everybody likes lunch.

1. Check a book of paintings out of the library. It should be a book of pictures you don’t like at all. Find something to admire in each painting. Choose a painting you actively hate. Do a version of your own. Change it any way you want. Keep working on your version until you like it, even if it takes a year. (You may work on other things too.)
2. Go through your old drawings and paintings. Pick out the very “worst” one. Mat and frame it beautifully. Enter it in a show. This is an especially useful ploy if you are afraid to enter shows. After all, what do you have to lose?
3. Choose a failed drawing or painting from your drawer. Pin it up where you will see it every day. Look at paintings of similar subjects by your favorite artists. Hire a model or do sketches to fill in missing information. Resume work on your failed painting.
It was not really “failed”. It was just not finished.

Watch for part 3 tomorrow, or visit

to read the little book in its entirety.