Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Painter's Primer, Part Two

Last week, I posted here  about a list of 100 points made by teacher Irwin Greenberg and given to his students. He called it the Painter's Primer and I had some issues with a few of his points. We covered 1-10, and now I will move on with 11-20.

11. Don’t settle for yourself at a mediocre level. Although a somewhat awkward sentence structure, this is a good point. I think it's dangerous for our creative processes if we start to think, "Well, this is good enough." Be better than "good enough".

12. Don’t allow yourself to be crushed by failure. Rembrandt had failures. Success grows from failure. Again, I agree. In fact, all artists had failures. Or if you aren't crazy about the word "failure" (I'm not!), use the word mistakes. I've found a great many of my mistakes become "happy accidents" and I do learn a lot!

13. Be a brother (or sister) to all struggling artists. This is so very important. Everyone needs encouragement and it's not that hard to find something to praise about someone else's work.

14. Keep it simple. Another important daily habit. Less stress that way.

15. Know your art equipment and take care of it. Referring back to #5 of the first list, if you invest your money into quality supplies and tools, take a few minutes to make sure you know how to keep them in top shape. What a waste of your time and money if you get ready to work and found you had not cleaned your brushes, or left the covers off of something and it dried out.

16. Have a set of materials ready wherever you go. If you are a painter, there are all kinds of travel kits, and DYI travel kits to put together so that you make the most of every opportunity when out and about. If your medium is in another field, you might try carrying a small journal or sketch book with you, to jot down ideas, or sketch an idea triggered by something you see. Today's cell phones make it easy to capture an image of something that inspired you.

17. Always be on time for work, class, and appointments. It's not chic to be late. It's rude. And since an artist's reputation is made of fragile things, personal habits such as this can go a long way in bolstering your reputation. Perhaps there is another artist who is looking for someone to collaborate with them on a project, or someone who is taking referrals to find someone to do a certain art piece. Be the one that others respect and recommend. Being a Diva only works on TV, and really, it doesn't even work there.

18. Meet deadlines. Be better than your word. This can be part B of #17 above. Again, it's your reputation you are building. Become known as someone who can be trusted.

19. Find a mate who is really a mate. (Read "friend" for mate.) This takes time, and also requires developing instincts about people in general. There are a lot of people out there who are only looking for someone to give them a boost, without returning the favor. Your friend, or mate, doesn't even have to be another artist as long as they support you and have faith in you. And remember, it's important to return that support!

20. Don’t be envious of anyone who is more talented than you. Be the best you can be. Envy can be a real killer - of time, of creativity, of yourself. It sucks life out of you. There will ALWAYS be someone who can do something better than you - so what? Life is not a competition, although our society certainly pushes that idea. Develop yourself, learn from others, and grow in the sunlight. If you let envy in, your eyes have turned away from your true calling and you drift into darkness. Be aware of how easy it is to be envious, and turn yourself away from that steep hill. I find that if I immediately praise the person, even if it is only to myself. I have freed myself of being dragged down by the chains of envy.

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