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What will keep you going throughout a long painting career?

January 23, 2015

At the beginning of your career in Art, you aren't likely to be thinking about its end. All you want is to get as good at making art, your art, as you possibly can. As long as I can remember, a famous quote about Art thrummed in my head.

Today, I looked it up. In Latin it reads as 'Ars longa, vita brevis' which translates as 'Art is long, life is short.'

Advances in medical science offer us a lifespan of  +100 years.

All you want at the start is to get good, really good, at making art. That's going to take time, a lot more than you can imagine right now. Why?

Because it isn't easy. If it were, everyone who likes to dabble with paint could do it.

  • Truth is, while everybody thinks they could be good at art, it isn't really so. No sporting champion set any records by dreaming about it. They put in the hard slog of learning their game, practising every day and never giving up.   

They did what was needed, just as we artists must do, to play our best 'game.'

  • Those who stick with it through the long learning curve are likely to make it as professionals. These people have one important attribute of the true artist: persistence. Here's the catch.

Persistence is pointless in the absence of a motivating force. Do you know what yours is?

  • Let's be clear about what a motivating force is:  the drive to create. It doesn't depend on your style, personal or artistic. A deep, abiding drive is based on creating something that's meaningful, to yourself and to others. What's the key?

Starting is key. Everything flows from that first step you take to become a serious artist. The day you commit yourself to that end is the beginning of your career. If you're really good, it will be a long career. To get 'really good' you need 3 things.
1. Talent.  
No one knows how talent, for anything, arises. No gene for it is identified. It 'just is.' Let's hope you have it. One pointer is whether you have the second attribute.
2. Passion.
Passion can take over a person's life to the point of obsession. People who write about artists like to focus on the obsessive personality – it provides a ready source of copy for their editors. In real life, artists are real people with real lives to lead. Obsession is the exception.
3. Persistence.
In the history of Science, many passionate young people spent a lifetime developing theories that failed to deliver results. Ego or rivalry can overtake good sense. Keeping a balance in your life as an artist depends on the most important attribute of all.

  • Right now, as you begin the learning curve, set aside time to uncover your purpose. Focus on the way you hope your art may contribute some benefit to the world. Don't be held back by modesty. Only you will hear what's unfolding in your mind, in your heart.©Dorothy Gauvin



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