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While talent is the starting place for producing quality works of art, an artist must learn and continue to learn and grow to remain on the cutting edge. There are many ways that an artist can learn and grow, and do so without an extensive outlay of funds. The primary ways to learn and grow as an artist are learning from written and audio-visual sources, learning from other artists, and experimenting with new materials, techniques, and art forms.
There are many written resources available to instruct and use as models for artistic works. From Leonardo di Vinci to present day, the tomes dedicated to art are virtually limitless Texts are written about their work and techniques they use. Few people fail to realize the benefits of online or public library for sources. A library is one of the best places to find affordable, not to mention, rare resources. While ordering a book from Amazon may feel easier, using the library is much more cost effective and you are dually provided an opportunity to page through texts without the hassle of returns. Not only can you find how-to books, but you can use the collected works of other artists to give you ideas and strategies to try yourself. Paring library resources with online resources and you will have an unlimited supply of inspiration and tips!
Besides written resources, videos and podcasts provide plentiful how-to sources. You Tube videos and podcasts can give you ideas and strategies for new techniques and methods. Your local library may even have VHS or DVD resources that are not new, but are still valuable with suggestions. Online search for videos and podcasts are an additional resource that can be informative about your preferred artistic area or even a new type of art to experiment with. The good thing about podcasts is that you can listen to podcasts while driving, doing household chores, or even working on an artistic piece.
To an artist, a mentor or mentors can be invaluable. Mentors should be successful artists who can lend their expertise about the art, business aspects of working as an artist, and even share ideas about how to get out of an artistic slump. Mentors can be fellow students and instructors from your courses at BEAU. They can also be selected from artists whom you admire. Most people are honored about being asked to be a mentor. You may be hesitant to ask someone to be your mentor, but the worst that could happen is to get a “no”. Mentors can also be artists or instructors from your local high school or even elementary school, as well as artists in local community arts groups or art museums. Mentors can also be friends and acquaintances. You can have more than one mentor! You may find that some mentors help with inspiration, while others help with business aspects and still others with technique. You can even find a mentor by studying works and biographies from artists from the past. They can mentor you posthumously.
Besides mentoring, other artists can help you by inspiring you and showing you various ways to improve your work. You should be constantly viewing the work of other artists in magazines and books, as well as in art museums. You can visit art museums online as well as physically. With modern technology, many museums have their collections available online, to make visiting museums in far places possible. You can learn from artists who use different mediums as well. View some unusual types of art for inspiration, such as fabric art or multimedia if you are not well versed in those areas. You can explore old anatomy and physiology drawings for ideas for your sculptures. You can read about oil pastel techniques if you are a painter or water colorist, and you can explore modern art if you are a traditional artist. Keep those ideas coming in from many other sources to keep your enthusiasm and inspiration sharp.
Another way to grow as an artist is to work at it! First of all, practice, practice, practice. It is amazing how many rough drafts artists complete before the final piece is completed. It is also important to know when to stop revising, and call the work finished. Practice and experience, as well as a mentor, can help you to know when that happens. Artists should experiment, and not just work to perfect their favorite techniques and styles. Think outside the box! Try something crazy; you may be happy with the result. Like brainstorming ideas, you can brainstorm techniques and works by thinking of every depiction of an object or scene as you possibly can, and you do not censor your ideas before trying them out. Keep your ideas fresh by exercising your mind. Even driving a different route to a familiar place can help you see your world differently and be the source of new ideas. Reading magazines or books that are not your usual ones can enhance your creativity. Even eating previously untried foods can open your mind to new perspectives.
Experiment with new styles and materials. Try a different brand of pencil or paint. Try painting on a piece of wood, instead of just a canvas as a way to stumble upon a new technique you like. Or try using fabric as your “paint” or “canvas” for a different look. Look at other materials such as yarn or twine or even a child’s crayons to create a new look.
You can also learn from your failures as well as your successes to grow as an artist. When you try some new material or strategy, you can learn how it did not execute the way that you thought it would or why you did not like it, and that will help you to grow as an artist as well. Without growth, you stagnate as an artist, and if you stagnate, you will stop using your artistic talents successfully. To grow as an artist, you have to try new things. Bring new ideas into your repertoire. Bring new mediums into your realm. Bring new ways of looking at people or objects into your mind. Use your mind to develop your talents as an artist.