|Ellen Cooper’s In Defiance of Erebus won
the People’s Choice and First Place Award.
After participating in a panel discussion about career goals for artists at this year’s Portrait Society of America Conference I wanted to share a few more tips that I use to keep my art growing and evolving every day. Or at least, that’s what I’m striving for.
Believe: You’ve got to have faith in something bigger than what is on your canvas. Art is how you express it, but the idea has to be bigger than yourself. One of my favorite spiritual quotes is, “I know not where He leadeth, but I know who is my guide.” You cannot make good oil painting art for the long term without a constantly renewable source of inspiration and support. So believe in something that will give you a foundation no matter what successes and failures, triumph and heartache land at your door.
Eyes on the horizon: Don’t chase previous moments of inspiration—Go to the Source. Great art happens when inspiration meets effort. And inspiration has to come from the source and not by trying to repeat previous conditions of inspiration. So, this also requires continued growth and development and forward thinking. Inspiration is the opposite of doing something by rote. It is by nature original every time. Inspiration happens most readily when you are working at the edge of your comfort level, at the moment between competence and risk. Now, art galleries always want you to do the same thing, and to give them consistently marketable material. However, the best art gallery dealers also know that genuine feeling cannot be faked. So, try to find a balance between consistency, integrity and growth.
Always improving: Never stop trying to improve your work through study. My friend John Morra, a well-known still life painter, recently spent a few months working on Bargue plates because he wanted to sharpen his drawing skills. The best artists are never too proud to go back to square one. Take a year and copy old masters, brush up on your oil painting techniques, draw the figure from life, learn cast drawing. It’s never too late. Long term career planning includes taking stock of your abilities, and taking time for acquiring the skills you need to succeed.
For more painting instruction from Patricia, check out her latest DVD, Figure Painting: Realistic Skin Tone.