A Call to Artists Everywhere: Stop Dreaming and Start Doing

By Rose Welty in Art Business Advice > Motivation

What do you dream of?

Are you dreaming of a 4 hour chunk in your week where everything quiets so you can sit down and create a masterpiece?

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Are you looking for that “aha!” moment when suddenly, like a rushing waterfall, art knowledge and skill pour through you and out the end of your brush onto the canvas?

It is human nature to dream of these days and moments. We crave time and space to do what we want, but we hesitate to do anything until we get that time and space. We dream of waking up one day as Michelangelo, Monet, or Sargent. We want skill and talent to just descend upon us, wave on wave.

Why Those Dreams are Lies

The trouble is most of us don’t live lives where we can just set aside great chunks of time every day, or even once a week. We also don’t have minds that can absorb lots of complicated, intricate knowledge all at once.

But reality isn’t so bad. We actually learn best in “drops”—one drop at a time—and each subsequent piece of artwork we create has all the previous drops of knowledge running through them.

With each drop of knowledge you learn, you add to your supply. . . and yes, at some point, you will suddenly hear the sound of rushing water. It won’t be a sudden gush, but a slow and steady process that results in masterpieces.

Stop Dreaming and Start Doing

So what does all this mean? It means stop looking for hours and hours of free time to do your art. Stop waiting until you know something more and pick up a brush now.

Give yourself 15 minutes a day, every day, regardless of how you feel. Rain, shine, happy, sad, tired, or full of energy—just get your 15 minutes in.

How do I know it works?

I recently gave this same advice to a pianist friend of mine who has struggled to play ever since her twins were born. She called the other day and told me in an excited voice that she had memorized half of a major piece—not because she suddenly had more time, but because she gave herself just 15 minutes a day.

This patient, bit-by-bit learning is recommended in many classic drawing and painting textbooks. Daily painters prove its effectiveness as well—those artists get better really fast. And I have seen it personally in my own artistic journey.

The old adage in gardening applies just as well to artists: When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago.

When is the second best time? Today.

For more articles by Rose Welty, visit her art blog Rose’s Art Lines.

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