Getting-started motivation

Q. Over the years I’ve collected many art books, brushes, paints, pastels and pencils as well as taken a couple of local art classes. I’ve always wanted to be involved in art in some way, but I’m discouraged and have no clue where to begin. Do you have any suggestions?

A. What an enviable place you’re in—the beginning. All those supplies you’ve collected are yearning for your head, hands and heart to use them in an expressive way. Here are five ways for getting motivated.

  1. Get inspired. First, look at the art books, magazines and art DVDs you’ve collected. Then, sit down, close your eyes and think about color, shape and texture. Imagine a beautiful sunset you’ve seen, a brightly lit rose, an attractive pattern on fabrics. Think about architecture, paintings or sculptures that fascinate you. After about 10 minutes, make a list of the most significant things you’ve imagined. Write down the colors, shapes and textures you envisioned. Keep this as the beginning of an “idea book,” in which you also can collect paintings, pictures and drawings you admire.
  2. Write an affirmation. An affirm-ation should express the reasons you want to paint. Perhaps it’s something like “I paint to please myself” or “I express myself best through art.” Remember this phrase and repeat it when you get discouraged.
  3. Get organized. Arrange a working space so all your materials are readily available. Look for tools to help you organize your materials at art supply stores or online at ArtBin (
  4. Just do it. Set a goal to cover a certain number of pages or canvases (perhaps 20) with brushstrokes using different colors and brush sizes. Keep your paintbrush moving fast. Don’t try to paint a subject and try not to think—just paint. Then, when you’re finished, observe the paintings to discern the pattern of brushstrokes, but don’t be too attached to the outcomes.
  5. Keep a schedule. Routine is important, even for the most experienced painter. Set aside at least 15 minutes to paint each day, even on weekends.

Well, what are you waiting for? Remember what Goethe said: “Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” Be bold. The beginning is the best part.

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