What Type of Self-Care is Right for Creative People’s Success?

Header for SkillfulArtists.com posts

Better Self-Care Can Lead To Greater Creativity and Success

Creating works of art can be very draining. Thought is put into every detail – the items that will be depicted, the composition, the color scheme, the size and on and on. There is absolutely nothing passive about creative work.

Because of this, creative people must be particularly diligent to take the time to replenish their inner creative juices. Creativity can’t be forced, as every artist and writer knows. Our best work springs from a harmonious inner strength that is ready to express itself creatively to the outside world.

So What Exactly Is Self-Care for the Artist?

For the creative person, self-care is whatever produces a warm, rested and peaceful spirit. For some people, it means sprawling on a favorite chair reading a juicy novel, walking in the woods or park or listening to classical music. For others it is enjoying their favorite foods with a nice glass of wine and a sappy old movie.

birch and pine treesSelf-care is normally a passive, entertaining activity in contrast to the meticulous work of creating, which can take a great deal of mental and emotional effort. The self-care activity takes you far away from your studio, say for a 4-wheeler trip through the woods. Or it can be a quiet evening by the campfire on the beach.

But self-care for the creative person is rarely creative activity that demands thought and decisions. It’s not a busman’s holiday. Instead, it’s a time to give your tired brain a well-deserved break from putting pieces of colors together to form something new.

For the creative person, self-care is the opposite of creating.

quiet campfire at night

Self-Care Can be Done Alone or With Friends

It can be weekend of doing nothing – or as little has humanly possible.

It can be hike with friends with an overnight under the stars.

It always includes eating right and getting plenty of rest.

It’s Important! – And Sometimes We Need Reminding

Self-care is often brushed aside for things seen as more important; meetings, social commitments, family obligations. While these things are important (and can in some cases contribute to self-care), it is important that we take regular spans of time for ourselves. just to rejuvenate.

girl enjoying her cats
Just resting in the yard with the cats

Some people look on time for themselves as frivolous. Perhaps for creative people who want to improve their art, the more frivolous the better.

Be sure that you are the one who decides what self-care is for you. Hiking is work for some people. Watching old movies are torture to others. Good self-care is customized to you alone. It’s not what your spouse or children like to do. Make a list of what rests your spirit, mind and body.

This personal investment is as important as producing the next work of art. In fact, self-care is vital if we want to optimize and improve our performance in any area of our lives. Taking the time to maintain our emotional, spiritual, mental and physical health can be the catalyst to greater creative successes.

Taking Time for Yourself Helps to Maintain Perspective

Self-care, when personalized, allows us the time to reflect and therefore better understand ourselves as individuals. We are better able to identify our triggers and put things in to perspective, rearranging our priorities to understand what is important and what isn’t.

two fish in harmonyThis perspective contributes to a healthier, more creative life as we understand where stress is justified and where we should be more relaxed.

Taking Time for Self Helps Us to Have a More Positive Outlook

Self-care is great for our mental and emotional wellbeing. People who invest time in taking care of themselves are more likely to be optimistic and see the silver linings in bad situations. On the other hand, when we are tired and burning out, everything seems more difficult.

Caring for your personal needs is an effective way for maintaining positive moods, rather than succumbing to darker emotions.

Having Alone Time Improves our Relationships

a man alone under a treeThis may seem contradictory but by investing time in ourselves, we are better equipped to interact with and support others. Self-care allows us to maintain our own health and therefore put us in a good place to be able to engage well with others and maintain strong, happier relationships.

People who take the time needed to keep their own lives in balance are more likely to be focused, more emotionally stable and form stronger, more positive relationships. All of these things are highly beneficial for creative people and will result in greater progress in their chosen art.

Being Well Rested Improves Our Creative Performance

While self-care is sometimes seen as indulgent, it often has a much broader impact that goes beyond our own lives.

It does take time to invest in self-care – but the benefits far outweigh the cost. In a world that tells artists to create more art to improve their skills, we should question this advice and examine the benefits of improving  ourselves in order to improve our skills.

resting in the grassTake the time to establish a good routine that includes self-care, rejuvenating practices, whatever this looks like to you. Your mind and spirit will reward you for giving them time to rest from the rigors of creating works of art.

Self-care is an important aspect of a healthy, creative lifestyle which should not be overlooked or disregarded.

Comment below and tell us what self-care means to you personally. Do you see it as important for creative people? What happens when we push our minds and bodies to create more and more works of art without giving ourselves the replenishing we need?

How to Print Out Really Nice Reference Photos

Before I start a painting, I print out a few reference photos. I might like the composition in one but the sky in another. A third photo might have the color scheme I want.

I usually get my reference photos from Pixabay.com because I never have to worry about taking another artist’s work. Everything on Pixabay is free for us to use any way we want to use it.

Printing these photos out on regular printer paper is not so great. So much of the color and intensity gets lost. So here is what I do instead:

[1] I Find a Reference Photo I Can Use

In Pixabay, I search for a particular element I want in my painting. A good friend of mine did me a huge favor and I wanted to repay her with an original painting. I asked her what she would like me to paint and she said, “I’m always attracted to paintings that have trees in them.”

So I envisioned a painting with a path going through trees with mountains and the sky in the background. This Pixabay photo helped me with the composition:

I know that my friend likes bright colors, so I downloaded this photo from Pixabay:

[2] I Crop the Picture in the Paint Program

Then I right click on the photo and open it in Paint:

If I want to crop the image, now is the time to do that.

[3] I Copy the Photo into Word

In order to print it out on photo paper the way I want it, I copy the image while it is in the Paint program into my clipboard by pressing the Control key and the “C” key at the same time.

Then I open a word document and paste it in, using Control + V.

The Word program sizes the picture automatically:

[4] I Print the Reference Photo on Glossy Photo Paper

I bought a reasonably-priced box of 50 sheets of glossy photo paper at Walmart. I chose the 8.5 x 11 size so it would fit in my printer:


  • I find reference photos that have elements that I’m going to put into my new painting.
  • I open a reference photo in the Paint program so that I can crop it and copy it into my clipboard.
  • I paste it into a Word document.
  • I print it out on glossy photo paper.

I do this for each reference photo I need for my next painting. Then I post them on the wall above and next to my canvas and start painting.

The colors are vibrant and the photos are much better quality than if they were printed on just regular printer paper.





Do You Need a Quick Painting for a Gift?


This painting below took Suraj less than 10 minutes to paint!

He uses a chip brush and pallet knife. He doesn’t even mix his paints on a pallet. But he does apply his paint rather thickly. This is a key to success with this painting.

Of course, you can use different colors. And you can stop painting before Suraj does. Watch and see:

Suraj encourages us to share his videos. To see more of Suraj’s painting tutorials, visit his YouTube channel at:


Subscribe, if you haven’t already. It’s a good way to say thank you for sharing your painting skills with us.

Did You Paint This Painting?

If you did, leave a comment about your experience.

  • Did you change the painting to make it uniquely yours?
  • Did you enjoy painting this?
  • What do you like about this painting?

How to Have an Online Zoom Meeting with a Friend

Two Tutorials for Using Zoom with a Friend

Actually, if you have 99 friends, they can all join you for free zoom meetings.

The first part of this page has text and screenshots. The second part is a video that teaches you even more.

But first, here is a good video on the subject:


[1] If you do not have a free zoom account, go to zoom.us and sign up: https://zoom.us/signup

[2] Download and install the zoom app onto your laptop or computer.

[3] If you do have an account, go to zoom and sign in: https://zoom.us/

Log in using the email and password that you created, or with Google(Gmail), Facebook, or Login with SSO.

[4] If you’re going to host the meeting, you need the zoom app installed on your computer. So go here and choose [Host a Meeting]: https://zoom.us/ to get the app.

From the dropdown menu, choose [with video on].

[5] Once you have downloaded and installed the zoom app, open it and sign in.

[6] Choose [New Meeting]


[7] You should now see yourself with your computer’s camera.

How to Immediately Start a Zoom Meeting and Send an Invite on Your Computer

[1] Once you have clicked [New Meeting], click [Manage Participants] or [Participants] at the bottom of the live call.

[2] Click the small arrow next to Participants and choose [Invite Others] or [Invite]

[3] This will open a pop-up:

[4] You can send an invitation via email. Choose the [Email] tab in the pop up box and you are given the option of Default Email, Google or Yahoo:

[5] I was taken to my Yahoo Email account where I logged in.

I was then presented with an open email with the subject line (Please join Zoom meeting in progress) and link deposited there for me:

[6] I entered my friend Chip’s email address and he received the email from me with the link.

[7] He copied just the link portion of message into a browser on his computer.

Since Chip did not have the zoom app on his computer, zoom downloaded it for him.

When he clicked on the downloaded file, the app will install automatically on his computer.

[8] Once the install was complete, he clicked on [Launch Meeting]

[9] The program asks him for the passcode, which he found in the email I sent him. (Note: This is not his the password for his zoom account; it is the passcode that is associated with this meeting only.)

[10] A message came up, telling Chip to wait until the host “admits” him into the meeting.

[11] The host (Elaine) sees on her screen that Chip is waiting to be admitted to the meeting.

When the host admits Chip into the zoom meeting, there are boxes for both participants. In this screen shot below, Chip is just on audio because his computer monitor does not have a camera, so his box is black. Elaine has her camera covered so her box is gray. Otherwise you would see her face.


Now they can start their zoom meeting. Chip can see Elaine but Elaine can only hear Chip, until he decides to install a camera on his computer.

When they want to end the meeting, the hit the [End] buttons. The host has the option to [Leave the Meeting] or to [End the Meeting for All (Participants)]

Zoom Tutorial Video

This video is somewhat long but the instructor is clear and doesn’t rush:

Zoom Tutorial for Beginners: How to Use Zoom Video Conferencing




5-Plus Simple Ways to Avoid Making Financial Mistakes as an Artist

In Robin Sealark’s video that I have included below, she talks about the very important topic of how artists can make financial mistakes. I expand on some of her ideas and added a few of my own:

[1] Be Savvy About Your Expenses and Income

Once you start selling your paintings, your financial situation will change in several ways. One way is that you may be required to pay taxes on the income from your sales. Here are some tips I use to keep my taxes to an absolute minimum.

Keep Excellent Records of Your Expenses

If your art hobby becomes a business – and it certainly can if it hasn’t yet – you will be able to subtract your expenses from your income and thereby pay less taxes.

(Disclaimer: I am not a tax consultant but my tax guy told me to do this and it saved me money. If you don’t have a tax guy, I recommend you think about it. Mine makes sure that I get every tax break I can while keeping me out of tax trouble.)

Every time I buy something related to one of my businesses, I put the receipt into a large envelope. This is the backup documentation I need when it’s time to do my taxes.

At the end of the year, I open a spreadsheet and enter the information in the envelope like this:

Date                                        Item                                                                       Cost

January 1, 20XX……….Canvas ……………………………………………..$3.99
January 20, 20XX……..Art book “Mixing Acrylics”……………$39.95
Feb. 3, 20XX……………..Entrance fee for Art Fair…………………$45.00
March 10, 20XX………..Printed 100 flyers for Art Class………$21.42

Then the spreadsheet totals up the expenses.

NOTE: You don’t have to wait until you are selling your creations to keep track of your expenses. Start this month. Then you’ll have a better idea of what your art work is really costing you.

Keep Excellent Records of Your Sales

I use a large envelope to keep the paperwork from my sales. Every time I make a business sale of any kind, I write out all the details of the sale and put the paperwork, stapled together, in the envelope. I include:

* The date I sold the item
* A description of the item
* The amount the item sold for
* The name of the person who bought it
* Any other details or paperwork from the sale

Don’t wait until you are selling lots of artwork to keep track of your sales. Start when you sell your first piece. If you end up having to pay taxes on your business income, you’ll have all the documentation of sales you need.

At the end of the year, open a spreadsheet and enter the sales information you find in your envelope:

Date                Item                                                                 Amount of Income

Feb 4, 20XX…….Painting: “Aspen Splendor” 12×16………….$200.
Apr 12, 20XX……Taught painting class at Senior Center…..$120.

The spreadsheet can total all your income in one swoop.

***If your expenses add up to more than your sales income, you may not have to pay any taxes on your art sales. Show your documentation (papers and spreadsheet) to a tax person. S/he will be able to tell you if you have to pay taxes on these sales or not. You might have to pay only a percentage of what you would have paid without a record of your expenses.

[2] Be on the Lookout for Bargains

 Some bargains you can find locally, some online.

 A Glass Paint Pallet

For quite a while, I was trying different things to use as my paint pallet. It wasn’t until I switched to glass that I stopped spending money looking for the right pallet for me.

I called my local glass company and asked what it would cost for a 12″x20″ piece of 1/4-inch plate glass with sanded edges. (I measured my work area before calling the glass company.) It was only $15 and ready for pickup in 3 days. This has saved me money and this pallet with outlast me.

Online Bargains

The online art supply stores are always running sales, especially at the end of the year. Get on their email list and watch for the items you use regularly to go on sale.



Walmart will deliver art supplies to your home in 2 days if your order totals $35 or more. The order can include food and household supplies, not just art supplies.


[3] Frames

I belong to a club that puts on yard sales regularly. We get lots of donations so we all have to pitch in to help. This gives me first choice of frames and reference photos that come in. In one season, I was able to pay very little for a wide variety of frames.

So if you go to yard sales, ask if they have paintings for sale. The artwork might be outdated but the frames could come at a real bargain.

Your own artwork will bring in more money if it is framed. If you don’t have a canvas that fits the frame, use MDF (medium density fiberboard) board from Home Depot  and have them cut it to fit the frame.

[4] Consider Trading

In my town, we have a small newspaper called The Shopper. We can put up to 2 free “Wanted” or “Want to Trade” ads in this paper every week.

If your area has a similar newspaper and you need art supplies, art books or frames, you might advertise. There could be someone who is looking for an artist who could use supplies they don’t need or want. If you have something to trade, mention that in the ad.

[5] Thoughts from Robin Sealark

Robin talks about other financial aspects of Art as a Business starting at minute 1:19. She addresses taking care of your supplies and electronics, charging for commission work, using contracts, getting a portion of commission money up front, her very bad and expensive tax experience, advertising for supply companies and a few other thoughts of how artists can avoid financial mistakes:



How Creative People Use Email Lists to Promote Their Artwork

If you want to sell your artwork or if you just want your work to be seen, then developing an email list will serve you well.

Virtually every professional artist has a website and an email list.

It’s a myth that emails are obsolete and being phased out. It’s true that there are other ways of contacting people, but email marketing is very much alive and well. We get notices, newsletters and sales ads in our inboxes every day. And people are still making a tremendous amount of money with email marketing.

See for Yourself How Artists Use Their Email List

If you are not on creative people’s email lists, you should make a point of subscribing to a few. You will see that they send out emails when they have new artwork or art-related information.

My favorite artist sends out an email every time she finishes a painting, which is quite often. She includes the medium, the size and the price right in the email and I’m proud of her for that.

Her email also contains a button (link) that says “Like this Artwork.” When you click on the button, you are taken to a place where you can comment on the artwork. I’m proud of her for including that link, too. It takes courage to invite comments so boldly.

Last, she has a “Purchase Now” link right in the email. Clearly, this is a first-come-first-served situation. Her artwork is wonderful and I’m sure that her collectors often use this Purchase Now link.

Other Emails Present a Softer Sell

Some of the emails from artists that I get do not have Purchase Now buttons. Often the artist will include a picture of the new artwork and invite you to click through to his or her website to see the specifics, such as medium, dimensions and price.

The email might contain some information to peak our interest, such as what inspired the work.

Get on Some Artists’ Email Lists

If you are not currently receiving emails from other artists, get on some of their email lists. One way to get on their list is to visit their website to see if they are offering a newsletter. If they are, there will be an opt-in form where you can enter your first name and email address.

sign up


If they don’t invite you to opt in to a list, send them a message through the website’s contact form. Or look for their email address on the website. Tell them you like their work and would like to be notified when new work is posted on their site. Artists who understand the power of email lists will welcome you aboard and appreciate that you are showing an interest in them and their work.

Analyze the Artists’ Emails You Receive

man with magnifying glass

When you receive an email from another artist, look it over very closely. How do they word their subject line? What exactly is in their opening sentence and paragraph? Did that capture your interest or would you have started the email with something different (better)?

How big is their artwork image? Do you think that is the right size for this email?

What do they say about their artwork? Do they give background information, such as what inspired it? Do they point out certain aspects of the work?

Do they include the price or do they invite you to click through to someplace else to see the price?

How do they end the email?

Do you think you could create a similar (or better) email for your next piece of art?

(If you are a member of the Skillful Artists Membership Group, I will be glad to help you compose your first email or any email that is giving you trouble.)

Click Through to Visit the Artist’s Website

Hopefully, the artist included a link in the email to his or her website. Go to the website and look for the gallery page. Chances are you would never have visited that page if you hadn’t received a nice email from the artist.

thumbs up

Send an encouraging message to the artist while you are on his or her site. Let her know that looked through her gallery and you’re a fan. If you can, tell her what you like specifically about her work. There is simply not enough encouragement in the world today. We can counter that with kind remarks and sincere complements.

If you have an art-related question, ask her. She might take the time to give you a valuable tip.

An Email List is Valuable Sales Tool for an Artist

The first step to getting your own email list is to understand the importance of having one. In later posts, we’ll delve into how to:

* Set up an email account to store your fan’s email addresses
* How to set up a website, if you don’t already have one
* How to put the opt-in form on your website
* How to get people to sign up to your list
* How to send a periodic email to the people on your list
* What to put into the email, besides your artwork, that will interest people
* How to make sales using email marketing

As an artist, you are a free spirit. You paint what is right for you. The same should hold true for the contents of your emails. If you want to present the director approach of giving a Purchase Now button in your email, you should do that. If a softer sell, sending people to your website in order to purchase, seems like the right thing to do, you should do that. There is no wrong approach. As with your artwork, you should follow your instincts.

Another Artists Explains Why an Email List is Important


Let us know if you have an email list and how often you email to your fans. Have you made sales or generated interest in your work through your emails? Do you ask for feedback about your creations in your emails? What platform or company do you use to store your email list?

If you don’t have a list, please leave a comment that you would like to have one.

5 Sure-Fire Steps to Achieving Your Art Goals

Can you name 3 goals that you have achieved in your artist life?

Many of us can answer that pretty easily – I have seen some improvement, I sold some pieces, my technique is closer to what I want. Or something like that.

If you feel that you haven’t reached your goals this year, all is not lost. Every day is a new beginning and another chance to make the progress you want.

Starting a new day
Vision of New Goals


Reasons Why We Fall Short of Achieving our Goals

There are many reasons why we don’t always achieve our goals:

* Life throws us a curve ball and knocks us off track

spiraling down staircase
Into the Rabbit Hole

* We get ourselves off track by exploring rabbit holes that don’t take us where we really want to go

* Someone says something painfully critical about us or our work and we become too discouraged to get much done after that

You could undoubtedly add several more reasons why you didn’t reach the goals you hoped to achieve in the time you hoped to reach them.

Thankfully, there is a cure for this universal problem of failing to reach a goal. Many goals are undefined; they are too vague. When we make general goals, we either don’t reach that goal or we’re not sure if we did. Here are some examples:

* Spending more time sketching

* Creating more artwork to sell

* Trying new mediums

These goals are as nebulous as clouds. They have no boundaries, no definition. It’s impossible to tell where they begin or end.

When you plan to spend more time sketching, how much more time? Two hours per year? Twenty minutes a day?

How much more artwork do you plan to sell? Two paintings? Five stained glass wall hangings?

Which new mediums do you want to try? Oils? Clay? Pastels?

Here are 5 sure-fire steps you can take starting today to reach your goals:


[1] Be Very Specific

Rather than setting a goal of making more sketches, pin the thing down: My goal is to make 12 finished sketches of city landscapes and I will put the 3 best ones into frames. Or I will finish 6 sketches of my dog within the next 3 months.

cat painting

Rather than saying I will make more artwork to sell, I need to narrow it down: My goal is to make 3 cat paintings and take them around to veterinarians and pet shops to offer them for sale.

Rather than saying you will try working with different mediums, be specific. This summer, before September, I will create 3 flower planters using cement, wood and mosaic tile.


[2] Know Exactly Why You Set These Goals

When you make your goals, be clear on why you pick those specific goals.

* Have you been wanting to try new mediums and just keep putting it off? Are you tired of working with the medium you have been working in? Do you have some fresh ideas for a different medium?

* Have you been afraid to approach outlets that might buy your paintings so you are setting a goal to encourage yourself to get your work out there?

* Are you aware that your lack of drawing skills is holding back your progress and now you have decided to conquer that mountain?

If we don’t know why we set a goal, we are far less likely to reach it. We give up because we don’t see the point. We fall back to the old habits that are easier and more familiar.

So before you set a goal, know exactly why you are setting it and if you think the reason is worth the effort of working toward that goal. Write down the reason you made the goal and read it from time to time to help you stay moving forward.


[3] Avoid Unrealistic Expectations

We create problems when we set goals that are very hard to achieve in the timeframe we set. Life happens and we must take that into account. So avoid setting yourself up to fail by not giving yourself enough time to reach your goals.

man climbing rocks
Make Sure the Goal is Right for You

Ask yourself if a particular goal is realistically achievable in your particular circumstances. If not, cut it back to where you are sure you can be successful. Completing a goal, no matter how small, will build your confidence. And in the art world, confidence is a precious commodity.


[4] Break Down Your Goal into Bite-Size Pieces

Sometimes we don’t reach a goal because we don’t know how to start. Other times, a step along the way gets confusing. Reaching a particularly difficult goal may seem overwhelming.

To avoid this, make a specific goal and then write down each step you must take to get to your destination.

* List what materials will you need? Which ones do you have on hand and which ones do you need to buy?

* How many hours do you estimate it will take you to reach that goal?

* When will you spend time working toward that goal? Every Saturday morning? Every Tuesday and Thursday evening?

If your goal includes taking your animal portraits around to sell, write down the places you will offer your work:

– The vet on 9th Street
– The pet shop on Main Street
– The Downtown Zoo
– The Art Fair in June
– The 4-H Fair in August

listing the steps
Write Down the Steps You Need to Take

Breaking down the steps into bite-size pieces helps in another way, too. On those days when you are not your best self and don’t know where to start your work, your list of steps will help you focus. You won’t have to make a decision every day regarding what you should work on. It’s all laid out in your goal’s list of steps. This tactic can help you be more productive, even on those annoying foggy-brain days.


[5] Keep Track of Your Progress

Keep a record of the goals you set and the progress you make. Check off each step as you compete it. If you don’t, you can lose sight of the goals and not recognize that you are getting closer to achieving them.

If your goal is to make 3 salable painting in 3 months, write down the start date for each painting and do your very best to stick to it. Cross off each step when it is done. Many of us do our best work when we see measurable progress and have deadlines. Use this to your advantage.

When you reach the end of a big goal, reward yourself with new art supplies, a new art book or a day out with friends to celebrate.


Some people hate setting goals because they feel like they are chores hanging over their heads. But in the art world, where there is so much to explore, we can find ourselves being a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.

If setting goals is difficult for you, set only one goal at a time and follow the steps above. Be certain that the goal will take you closer to the vision you have for your art career. Break down each step and get busy on the very first step.

Let us know in the comment section below what goal or goals you are setting for yourself. Then let us know when you reach that goal. We are cheering you on and will congratulate you when you reach the finish line.


8 Secrets to Improving Your Creative Skills Quicker

In this article, we will learn ways to practice our artwork to improve at a faster and more permanent way.

This artist, YanSculpts, mentions something that has proven true in my work, whether it’s painting, writing, woodworking or whatever. Listen to what he says and then we’ll break it down into sections below the video:

Video by YanSculpts

Learning to Practice Efficiently

YanSculpts presents ways to “practice efficiently.” His premise is that there are certain ways to practice that will allow us to store our new knowledge in our long-term memory, not just in our short-term memory. He states that there are efficient ways and inefficient ways to strive to improve our creating work.

He says there are 3 things we should stop doing and 5 things we should start doing. Let’s look closely at these things:

First Thing to Stop Doing – Allowing Distractions

Stop allowing distractions into your work area. Postpone checking emails, watching videos, listening to audio books and the like.

All of our focus should be centered on practicing our creative work.

As I think back to many of my painting sessions, I can see that he is absolutely right. I have set aside time to paint  – but I also used this time to catch up on the news, watch movies or listen to audio books.

I’m going to take YanSculpts advice and use my art sessions to concentrate on my current creative work and block out the rest of the world.  Sounds heavenly.

Second Thing to Stop Doing – Multitasking

Multitasking – not good for improving our artwork. According to YanSculpts, continual multitasking can also cause us to reduce our attention span.

From now on, I won’t be cooking dinner and washing clothes while I’m working on a creative project.  My creative time will be my creative time. Sounds heavenly.

Third Thing to Stop Doing – Working for Too Long at a Stretch

Don’t work for long stretches without taking breaks. YanSculpts suggests 2 to 5 minute breaks every 30 minutes.

There are times when I hear myself saying, “This is a good stopping point.” At that moment, I make a note (mental or on paper) of the next step I want to tackle when I return to the project. I may have worked for longer than 30 minutes. I wouldn’t want to interrupt my work if I was on a roll no matter how much time I was submerged in the creative process.

On the other hand, when I feel stuck or frustrated that something is not coming out the way I envisioned, this is when I take a break. I get away from the project for a short period of time. When I return, I can often see the problem and can fix it.

It seems to me that the breaks should involve activities that support the creative work, such as enjoying a favorite tea, resting the eyes or taking a quick brisk walk in the sunshine. I don’t think catching up on the news during a break will put me in a mood that will enhance my artist capabilities!

Sticky Note to take a walk

QUESTION: What do you think about YanSculpts’ suggestions for the 3 things we should stop doing? Leave a comment below.

First Thing We Should Start Doing – Deep Examination

According to YanSculpts, when we draw, paint, sculpt or whatever one subject after another, we are storing this learning in our short-term memory.

However, when we analyze a subject from every angle, inside and out, until we can create it in a expert manner from memory, we are storing this subject in our long-term memory. YanScupts declares that this is a more efficient way of learning.

When I was learning to be a chainsaw carver, I set up a carved bear in my vision and started carving on a log. At first, it seemed impossible – like when you are first learning to balance on a bicycle. My first “bear” was a disaster.

So that night I took some clay and shaped a bear. I realized that my mind had to visualize the bear in 3-D inside the log, which at the time I was not sure I could ever do.

On day two, I set up another log and carved away. Same crappy results. But I got the ears in the right place. That was an improvement.

That night, I tried to picture the bear inside the log. My job was to carve away everything that wasn’t the bear. It seemed impossible to know what to carve away and what to leave alone.

On day three, my results were not much better. But I realized that my mind was struggling to see the bear in the log and there were a few moments when it actually happened, just for a flash.

Long story short, I carved 30 bears before I created one I felt someone would buy. And I carved almost every day for the next 8 years and sold every bear, wolf and raccoon I made from that point on, except for a few that I kept.

carved bear
Natalie the Carved Bear

Through repetition, I am now able to see a 3-D object inside a solid cube, cylinder, ball or pyramid. My brain just learned to do that because I kept at it until it learned how.

The point is that I agree wholeheartedly with YanSculpts regarding this matter. By knowing my subject from every angle and in 3 dimensions, I grew to be able to create a carved bear from memory every time.

I confess that I don’t always do this with my paintings. But I will from now on! I will envision each element in 3-D and practice it until I can do it from memory, without a reference photo.

Second Thing We Should Do – Recall from Memory

YanScupts suggests that we study our subject matter and create it over and over until we can create it from memory.

Do you create the same artwork over and over or do you move on to something new each time? It has crossed my mind in the past that I should take a painting that I did fairly well and repaint it, improving one aspect each time, until I can see stark improvement from the first painting.

I think I’ll take YanSculpts’ advice and paint something until I can paint it very well from memory.

Third Thing We Should Do – Self Critique

YanSculpt suggests that as part of the process, we create something from memory and then compare it to the reference drawing to see if we forgot anything.

Then, if we discover something that should have been done differently, we redo the work without looking at the reference photo until we are done and ready to compare our work to the photo.

This is an excellent exercise for making consistent improvements to our work. Although you might be saying that this is anything but “quick,” it could actually be the closest thing to a straight line from where we are now in our level of expertise to where we want to be.

Fourth Thing We Should Do – Get Sufficient Rest

Easier said than done sometimes, but it’s common knowledge that we do our best work when we are rested and not tired or stressed.

YanSculps claims that sleeping well helps our brain to retains the knowledge we learned that day.

cat sleepting
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Fifth Thing We Should Do – Spaced Repetition

Going back from time to time to do what we learned causes the information to become even more embedded in the mind.

When I was younger, I had a math workbook that continually brought up math problems that I learned in previous chapters. By the end of the book, there were math problems from every previous chapter.

With this teaching approach, each concept was periodically presented to me and I didn’t forget what I had previously learned. The new knowledge was not given the chance to “overwrite” the old knowledge.

This is what YanSculpts is saying. Don’t just learn to do something well and then move on forever. Continually revisit what you learned and it will stay with you. You will be able to recall it at a moment’s notice, even years from when you first learned it – because you repeated it periodically.

So what do you think? Do you agree with YanSculpts’ approach to long-term learning to improve your artistic skills more quickly? Will you apply any of these principles to your creative endeavors? Do you have other methods that works for you? Let us know in the comments section below.


What To Do If Your Artwork is Turned Down by a Gallery, Show or Shop Owner

It can be very discouraging when you want your work to appear in a show and it is turned down by those who decide what work will be entered.

This upset can cause you to stall out or slow down when it comes time to create new artwork. When you start focusing on getting pieces sold or meeting people who will show your work, your time and energy is separated from creating new and better artwork.

How to Handle Being Turned Down

Special care is required to control your emotions when your art is not picked for a show or gallery. It’s human nature to feel slighted, even cheated. You know your work is good and you feel that you deserve to be in that show or gallery.

Gallery owners on bench making decisions
Gallery Owners Making Decisions

Not being chosen does not mean your work is inferior. Every show, gallery or shop has limited space. Someone had to make a decision between your work and someone else’s. Your work could be excellent but the other person’s work matched the theme of the show more closely. In a different situation, where your pieces were in closer harmony with the gallery owner’s needs, your work would have been chosen.

What’s more, the gallery or shop owner knows what his customers like by what they have purchased in the past. In one area of town, your work might be exactly what the owner is looking for. In another part of town, a shop owner is aware that his customers want something quite different.

Sometimes it comes down to a numbers game. You may find over time that you must show your work to five people before one will accept it for a show. That number could be three or seven. The point is, nobody’s work is entered into every show one hundred percent of the time.

Take Care Not to Burn Bridges in the Art World

How you react when your artwork is turned down is very important. The very best thing to do is to thank the person who took the time to look at it and move on politely. Leave the situation on a positive note. Everything changes. The time may come when either your current work will be entered or your work will change to fit the situation. Since this is possible, you want to maintain the very best rapport with the shop or gallery owner.

Shaking Hands
Leaving on n Good Note

You could end the meeting by giving the shop owner your business card, saying, “Thank you so much for your time and here’s my card in case your needs change in the future.”

Think of this as an interview with a company you’d like to work for. There are no openings at this time that fit your qualifications but there might be later on. Keep that door open and don’t burn any bridges – no matter how badly you feel or even how badly you were treated.

Matching Up Your Artwork

So if your artwork is not chosen to be displayed in a gallery, show or shop, remember that there are other places where your work will be exactly what someone is looking for. Your job is to continue to introduce your artwork to gallery and shop owners until you find the place where your work is a good match.

Artist creating a large painting
Artist Creating Painting for the Gallery

There is a robust controversy among artists and writers regarding whether or not to change your work to make it right for the gallery so that your work will be accepted next time.

Tread lightly into these waters. Perhaps the right way is to stay true to your own voice, your own style and your own preferred subject matter. Or perhaps producing work that is trending that year is what you should be doing. This is a tough choice. Both could be right.

Many professional artists say that staying on their own course worked out best for them. But at the same time, a person must eat. So decide for yourself which is the right thing for you at a particular point in time.

This is the nature of the art world. But when you think about it, the same thing happens to writers, actors and a host of other professionals. Each one has to present their work numerous times before someone says, “That fits my needs. It’s right for this particular show (or publisher).”

Continue Creating Good Artwork
Artist at work at her easel
Artist Hard At Work

The best course of action is to put the experience behind you and focus on your next work of art. Keep on keeping on, as they say. The artist’s journey is a lifelong one. If you keep creating and presenting your work, opportunities will open up.

Share Your Experiences Showing Your Artwork

Let us know in the comment section below about your experience presenting your artwork to gallery, show or shop owners. If your work wasn’t accepted, how did you handle it? What would you do differently next time? Did you have trouble creating new artwork after that experience?

If you are a Skillful Artists Member, you can submit an article, video or audio about your experiences. Include some images of your artwork. We’d love to hear about it.

How to Find Local Shops to Display Your Artwork

Shop owners are always looking for something unique to sell to their customers.  There is nothing more unique than your paintings or crafts.  Nobody creates them like you do.

Take your photo album or a few paintings and visit some local gift shops. Show them your work and ask if they would like to carry a painting/craft or two in their store.  Let them choose the items that they think will fit best in their store.  No need to be shy – you are doing you both a favor if they find something you make that their customers will like to buy.  Both you and the shop owner will make money.  It’s a win-win situation.

The store owner or manager will tell you their terms.  A standard consignment agreement is 35% to the store owner and 65% to you.  If they agree to show your stuff, be sure to sign a contract with them and get a copy for your records. Know how often they pay when something sells.

I approached the owner of Kaleidoscope Inspiration in Canon City, Colorado.  She was willing to give my paintings a try.

Since then I have sold a painting and she has asked for more.

If you come across a shop owner or manager that doesn’t seem sure about carrying your items, ask them what they are looking for.  They might say, “Something more western” or “Something in a lower price range.”  It’s possible that you can provide them with what they need so don’t be afraid to ask.

Once your items are in their shop, go visit that place them regularly.  If something isn’t moving, offer to replace it with something new.  This way you will discover what that shop’s clientele likes to buy.

Another approach is to paint something that will increase the chances of appealing to a store owner.  For example, if there is a bike shop in town, paint a bike rider with a local scene in the background.  It could be mountains, the beach or a famous local landmark.  Then approach the bike shop owner and ask if he would consign your painting in his shop.

Put yourself in the shoes of his clientele.  If someone’s love is bike riding, wouldn’t he or she love to have an original painting or craft that displays his interest?  And if there is something local included in the painting, where else could they buy something like that?  Possibly no place but right there in that shop!

Expand this thinking to other hobbies and interests – the archery shop, the pool hall or the golf shop.  Even bookshops, restaurants and wine shops.  The possibilities are endless.

What are your thoughts about approaching store owners to display your artwork?