If you keep doing what your are doing, you are going to get more of what you've got. Become a fearless artist VS a fearful artist and experince the freedom, and the transformation. It's time! Defending the status quo is no longer worth it.
Embrace the daSilva Method today and begin to detach yourself from these commonly shared excuses. The world needs you to live your most creative, most passionate, and most awakened self.
The Fearful Artist
Top 10 most commonly used excuses you're not an artist
I’m not really an artist because:
1. I don’t know how to draw
You don’t need to know how to draw to be an artist.
It’s surprising to me, how many people think they need to know how to draw in order to be an artist.
Speaking from personal experience, I don’t know how to draw either! The last time I dedicated a significant amount of time and effort to honing my drawing skills, it was learning how to draw horses in elementary school.
I am not discounting the skill set in any way. I think you need to know how to draw in order to create some kinds of art. But I don’t believe you need to know how to draw to make all kinds of art. Certainly not abstract art. Maybe some kinds of abstract art. But certainly not all, and certainly not the kind of abstract paintings I have dedicated the past 11 years of my life doing.
If you would like to make the kind of art that does involve knowing how to draw, consider taking a class, signing out a book from the library, or watching a YouTube video. Do something, rather than nothing to change your current situation.
If you’ve been using the excuse that you can’t be an artist because you don’t know how to draw, stop. It’s a bad excuse and there are many different kinds of art that you can do even if you can’t sketch a bowl of fruit to save your life.
Doesn’t matter. You don’t need an art degree to be an artist.
What makes you think that an art degree is what makes you a real artist?
Over the years, I’ve met and taught many art school students and art school graduates, who have all said the same thing: “I have been waiting to learn what I’ve learned in your workshop for years, and never have.” I find it fascinating that they tell me they learn more from my workshops than they did in their formal training.
When I graduated High School, I thought briefly about going to art school, but the thought never had any serious intentions. For one, I was extremely aware of the “starving artist” cliché. I was afraid of putting time, energy and money into an education that in the end would force me to “get a real job”. In addition, my colleagues who did apply to art school, not only knew who to draw, but were way better than me.
However, I was not immune to the allure of an art school degree. There was a part of me that hoped going to art school would give me the confidence I so desperately needed. The confidence that came from knowing how to do many artistic modalities well (drawing, oil painting, watercolour), and the confidence that comes from having my name followed by letters: MFA (Masters of Fine Art). I assigned a lot of meaning to those letters. To put it simply, those letters meant that I knew what I was talking about.
Mostly though, I realized that going to art school was all about permission: permission to call myself an artist.
Thank goodness we are artists, not doctors! I would feel much safer seeing a doctor with the letters (MD) following his/her name. Fortunately, this is not true for artists.
In my late twenties, still under the allure that an art degree would bridge the chasm between me and calling myself an artist, I enrolled in art school. This is when I finally knew art school was not for me: Halfway through the first day of my first class (which just so happened to be drawing), I walked out. I realized that art school wasn’t going to give me the confidence I was looking for. In fact, it was going to do the exact opposite. Instead of giving me wings, I saw it clipping my wings. I decided that instead of devoting the next 4 years to an art degree, I was going to devote my time making art.
Art school was not the right decision for me, but it may be the right decision for others. I encourage you to check in with yourself and consult your own compass.
I hear you. But that can change.
I also felt stuck for years. But guess what? You don’t have to stay stuck forever.
Creativity is muscle. The more we use it, the stronger it gets. Saying that you’re stuck is like saying that you’re not physically fit. You can change. You don’t have to begin power lifting today. You can go for a walk around your neighbourhood. You can spend less time in from of the TV. Our muscles get stronger as we use them. They atrophy when we don’t.
So often we feel like being stuck is something outside of us. It. We fail to realize that we have brought ourselves there.
We are creative beings! Creativity is talking to us all the time. What we’ve done over the years, is to deny our creative urges to the point creativity has stopped talking to us and we find ourselves stuck.
Here's an example of a typical "stuck" thought process: We think we might like to try the color red in our painting, but before we pick up the tube of paint, we say to ourselves: "No, that’s stupid. That won’t work. That’s too messy. Yeah, that sounds fun but that won't work for me. I don’t know how to do it. I don't even like red. What would I do with a painting that looked like that anyways? It doesn't match with anything in my house."
How do we begin to turn this around? How do we get unstuck?
To put it simply? Indulge your creative urges.
What is a creative urge? What does a creative urge look like? It’s a thought. It’s a feeling. It’s a spark. It’s an urge. Here's a simple example: When I get the urge to use a color I haven’t picked up in awhile, I don’t hesitate. I do it. I indulge it.
A creative urge can also feel like a feeling of excitement. If I’m having a conversation with someone and they mention something that sounds exciting to me - something I'd like to try on my painting, I notice this. This is a creative urge.
We silence our creativity when we don’t give it a change to flex. To exercise itself. To make itself stronger.
You don’t have to wait until you know all the answers and have a precise plan of action in order to begin a piece of art. You just have to begin and trust that the inspiration will follow and guide you.
That’s great! You might have an advantage.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that we all started out as creative beings, but some of us just forgot?
Over the course of my career, I’ve been approached several times to teach art classes to kids. My response has usually been the same: I honestly, I just don’t think they need it! Kids are already fearless. It’s the adults that are full of fear.
When you give a child a blank piece of paper, they don’t hesitate. They just begin! They surround themselves with their favourite colours (because why would they work with colours that they don’t like? We do all the time, but they don’t.), they are intensely focused, confident, and fiercely present.
They also always seem to know exactly when they are done (either because they’ve said what they needed to say, or they just get bored), and they are proud to share their accomplishments and put it out for display on the family fridge.
If you haven’t painted since kindergarten, that’s completely okay. In fact, this is probably an advantage. In my experience, artists who haven’t had years of formal training in art tend to have fewer inhibitions, because they have less unlearning to do. They are less attached to preconceived ideas of making art, traditional tools, process, and outcomes.
If you’ve been using the excuse that you are not an artist because you haven’t painted since kindergarten, stop. This is not a good excuse any longer.
Yes, you do.
The world is full of excuses, and there is certainly no shortage of them. I think that in the end, we do what we want to do. There are so many examples of artists who found the time despite their circumstances.
Here are just a few examples of students who made the time: a students who drove an hour and a half for 8-weeks to attend my studio classes, a extremely busy parent, an ambitious CEO, a postgraduate student, a student whose partner was ill, who’s child had run away from home, who flew from Australia to attend my workshop in Atlanta, and someone who was recently divorced and flew from Texas to attend my workshop in Salt Lake City.
We make the time for things that are unimportant to us. We get caught up in so many things that distract us. I think we can do less of that and more of what’s truly important.
Imagine who much more confident we would feel if we devoted the same amount of time to our artistry as we did to binge watching Netflix?
Yes you do.
The argument that making art is expensive is incredibly pessimistic. The argument that anything is expensive is pessimistic. Here are 12 things that "it's expensive" can also be applied to:
"Expensive" can be applied to many things:
Everything has an expense because everything has a dollar value attached to it. It’s the capitalist society we live in.
With the resources that you currently have, whether they are big or small, how do you want to spend your life?
If the answer is making art (or doing anything for that matter) you will find a way.
When I decided to quit my dependable, predictable, secure, corporate office job and become a full time artist, I had $600 in my bank account. The year was 2008.By all accounts, this was the worst time to decide to devote my life to creating beautiful "wall embellishments".
Thank goodness I listened to my inner voice rather than practical reasons. My life derailed into a track that finally felt right and authentic after years of living an uninspired life.
When I began painting, art supplies were certainly not in my budget. I saved by buying my “canvases” from the local hardware store (MDF boards cut to my specifications), student quality paints and extremely cheap brushes. The brushes were so cheap they kept losing their hairs on my canvas. But so what? Hurray for me! At least I was painting.
There are a myriad of ways to save on art supplies. The hardware store in just one of them. You can buy your canvases from second hand shops, and paints and brushes from the dollar store. They’re not the best quality but my point here is that where there is a will, there is a way.
When you open yourself up the world, the world opens up to you. Using salt, sand and sawdust to create texture in my paintings has been my practice for years. Recently, I have started experimenting with the red dirt found here in Utah. The colour of this unorthodox “paint” is incredible and it rivals the red ochre I’ve been purchasing at the art store.
That’s ok. Having an art studio is a luxury. Not a necessity.
Not having “the room” to paint is hardly an excuse for making art. Take it from someone who’s been there.
Throughout my life, I’ve had the experience of living in extremely small spaces, however where there is a will, there is a way. I have always found a creative solution to make art.
In fact, most of my artist career has been made without the presence of an official art studio. I’ve painted in my bedroom, furnace rooms, closets, fire escapes, other people’s homes, living rooms, dining rooms, basements, bathrooms, backwards, decks, patios, porches, laws on public parks, picnic tables, and garages.
When you’re committed to a vision, you find a way.
Imagine the “inconvenience” of not having a designated space for art. It means setting up and taking down your studio many, many times. It means finding a place to dry canvasses is extremely challenging, and storing your art supplies is also an issue.
As a result of moving as often as I have, I have become a minimalist artist. I only have with me what I use. The rest is superfluous.
I’ve never been the kind of artist with a “cliché art studio” with tons of stuff lying around. I never had that luxury. I also never had the option to store little bottles of product “waiting” for the perfect time to use them. If I’ve got something in my studio, I use it.
No, you’re not.
I don’t believe it. I’ve personally witnessed a 65 year old (who had not painted since kindergarten) decide to be an artist and so she became one.
I’ll never be a prima ballerina. I probably should have started around age 3. At my age, I can aspire to take a “ballet for big feet” class but that’s probably about it. Indeed, there are professions where age plays a significant role, but being an artist is not one of them.
Making art is vulnerable. Get over it.
This is either something you are going to have to accept and move through, or reject and remain where you are. The choice is yours.
We all want people to like our art. But it’s a great big world, and every time you have the courage to express an opinion, you may or may not like what people have to say about it.
As a budding artist, I had my first encounter with a critic when I was sharing a gallery space in downtown Calgary. I was there by myself, many of my paintings were hanging on the walls, and a man wearing a dark cloud over his head walked in. Hunched over, hands clasped behind his back, a scowl on his face, he pointed at one of my paintings and said: “Did you paint this?”
“Yes.” Intuitively, I braced myself for the worst.
“This,” his hands waving madly over the surface of one of my paintings, “this color reminds me of bird shit.”
He looked at me defiantly.
I was stunned. “Well, you’re entitled to your opinion.” Is all I could muster the courage to say.
He left muttering under his breath. The dark cloud followed obediently.
I felt hurt by his comment even though I understood that his comment had more to do with him than it had to do with my art.
I wish I had had something witty to say. Like a smart come back. But what’s the point? My job is to make the best art that I can. Expose it to as many people as I can, to inspire others to live a creative life. To empower others to overcome their fears and create the life of their dreams.
As long as I stay true to my course and my purpose, it doesn’t’ matter what some people have to say about it.
“Haters gonna hate.” is so accurate.
If that’s not enough to convince you to think about this: Dali, Frida Kahlo and Picasso: by all standards these are “the great artists”. They have reached a height that many of us dream about. If they, in all of their genius, vision and glory, had so many people hate on their art, what makes me think I won't have some criticism also?
Next time you get some criticism, consider yourself lucky: you’re reaching people. And you’re doing something significant enough to elicit an emotional response.
You will. But you don’t have to spend a lot of time there.
Over the years, I’ve learned how quickly a painting can change with the addition of another layer "a wash”. A wash is a thin layer of acrylic paint and water I use to paint over the entire surface of the canvas to harmonize, pull together and add depth to my paintings. Over and over again, I’ve seen this simple technique transform a painting that I may have hated just a few moments earlier, to something I love.
The evidence that “I suck” is not something I recommend getting attached to. It is not the final chapter; it is a single page in a book. Each layer adds to the story. Even if you create layers (chapters) you're not in love with.
Isn’t it the same for our lives? We all have “chapters” that we’re not in love with, and we don’t care to repeat, but oh how they’ve changed us! They’ve made us into who we are. We have the capacity to integrate those chapters and recognize that they make for a beautiful story.
This blog was created to share my belief that the art-making process is a catalyst for transformation and personal empowerment. I am living proof.