10 Things Worth Learning from Artists

Complied by ReimagineArt (with a nod to Eric Booth and The Everyday Work of Art)

1. They observe

Painter Margaret Terrall’s directive to “paint what you see, not what you know,” opens eyes to the plentitude of colors, contrasts, shadows, textures, and shapes in the day-to-day.

2. They turn mistakes into opportunities 

Glass fusionist, Tracy Paquin celebrates “happy accidents,” which is what occasionally comes out of the kiln when a painstakingly assembled piece melts into an amorphous puddle – but oh what a puddle it is!

3. They are forgiving

I met forgiveness in ceramicist Kurt Piltz after fessing-up to chipping an exquisitely thrown bowl on the ‘waiting to be fired’ shelf. Kurt’s response? — “Oh don’t worry about it. It’s a community art studio. These things happen. The women who threw that is very prolific. She can make another one.” I felt like the thief Jean Valjean after the priest filled his arms with more silver candlesticks!

4. They know how to resource people

Singer-songwriter Dustin Erhardt explains that he never has to pay for musical talent because he trades with friends: “We do that for each other. I help him when he needs a guitar player, and he helps me when I need a bass. He’ll help me this time, I’ll help him next time.”

5. They share

With rare exception, artists share ideas, techniques, resources, ideas, discoveries, even tools and equipment (plus great edible treats!) Pinterest and Youtube bear testimony to this marvelous phenomenon. Artists are the least possessive people I know and refreshingly generous from the heart.

6. They make time for what gives them life, makes them happy, and keeps them healthy.

Artist have a fundamental knowing that ‘doing art’ is as vital to their wellbeing and survival as say, eating.

7. They are not afraid to try new things

Every artist confronts the same hurdle at the onset of a creative endeavor: starting. A blank piece of paper, a white canvas, or a hunk of clay represents genius, failure, and everything in-between, but artists know that they won’t attain a thing unless they get over themselves and start.

8. They trust and enjoy the process

No artist would turn away fame, but what truly motivates is the love of the art. Artists understand that the creative process holds great value of its own: starting, experimenting, practicing, progressing, and learning to bend with the unexpected and deal with disappointment are skills that translate to success in life, the most valuable byproduct of all.

9. They are ok with ambiguity

Unless in mass production, the end product rarely resembles what an artist had in mind from the start. Inherent in the creative process are twists, turns, restarts, do-overs, and adaptations. Expecting the finished product to match the original vision is a guaranteed killjoy. The more likely end result is something different from -and often superior to – how it began.

10. They are flexible in their thinking, value diversity, and welcome perspective

Rather then feel threatened by varying opinions, artists see opportunity for personal growth and creative advancement. They know that curiosity and openness betters both their art and their personage.

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