Life Lessons Learned from Painting

I am always astounded when I put brush and pencil to a flat surface and something springs off the 2-d canvas or illustration board and realizes its full 3-d form. After 40 plus years of creating art, I am still amazed at the creative process.

I am an illustrator and writer of children’s books, but also love painting for the sake of creating. My latest series of paintings gave me some insight to my own growth and lessons learned from the creative process.

  1. Small changes can make a big difference. Look at your artistic creation and see if just a small brush stroke or pencil stroke could strengthen your work. Take a moment to look closely and decide.
  2. Stand back and look at the bigger picture. You need to also look at your work from a distance. Does the overall subject, composition, and color reflect what you are wanting to convey?
  3. Nothing is so precious that it has to stay the same forever. Stephen King was actually quoting William Faulkner, who said: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” That means that if you have some beautiful section of your creation that you will preserve at all costs, look again and decide if that is strengthening your work. If not, it needs to go. Be strong and “Kill your darlings.”
  4. Learn from others whom you admire. So much can be learned from looking at other artists. Follow those you admire on social media, go to art galleries and study the art there. Always be open to learning.
  5. Have the correct tools at hand; it makes creation easier. There is nothing more frustrating than having a paint brush that is splayed or not having the color of pencil you need. Visit your art supply store and keep stocked on your supplies.
  6. Take chances and grow. We are all learning–artists and non-artists. The only way to grow is to take a risk and move out of your comfort zone. You may not create what you want at first, but you will learn what you need to do next time.
  7. Follow your curiosity. I give credit to writer Elizabeth Gilbert for this phrase. Instead of “follow your passion,” which comes with some baggage of needing to prove your passion, just create anything and everything. No need to prove yourself. Just be curious.