pep talk

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

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Inspiration has to find you working Picasso
Inspiration has to find you working Picasso

I’ve always loved this quote by Pablo Picasso. It ties in well with my firm belief that natural talent is not necessary to be an artist. Any kind of artist. In my opinion all talent really does is give you the boost to do things quicker, to ride the learning curve faster, but it’s not the main quality for an artist.

Far more essential than talent is will. The will to be an artist, the discipline to sit down every day and “do the thing”. Like Richard Strauss: every day from 9 to 12 he would compose music. He wouldn’t compose a masterpiece every day, but that doesn’t matter.

Because inspiration has to find you working.

Inspiration has to find you working_Georgia_O'Keeffe_by_Stieglitz,_1918
"I hate flowers - I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move." Good point, Georgia.

Things start gain depth by doing them, by putting yourself in the zone.

I experience this all the time. First of all I never had talent. I decided I wanted to draw and I learned how to do that by doing it and keeping at it even when it sucked. (And I realize that this is another struggle, accepting it’s ok to suck.)

And I moved on my learning curve. My works now are more than what my works were ten years ago. I learned to do different things, I expanded my drawing vocabulary and stretched my style outside my comfort zone.

I know how to paint but today I still need to be working to create something that I feel meaningful. I start painting and my first 4 or 5 watercolors are not what I’m looking for.

Inspiration has to find you working.

Inspiration has to find you working_Keith_Haring_(1986)
"My contribution to the world is my ability to draw. I will draw as much as I can for as many people as I can for as long as I can." You left us too early, Keith.

My students often tell me that they don’t have time to practice, and if they have some free time they are not inspired or tired or it seems too complicated to take out the colors and do something. And they feel like they’re not improving, they don’t like their work.

And it’s ok, it’s normal. The learning curve is always there, and you ride it step by step, they can be very small steps but they need to be taken.

For some, going to a painting class once a week and practising with others for just a couple of hours can be enough to satisfy their creative need. And that’s perfectly fine.

But if that’s not enough, then it’s not talent you’re missing. It’s will, discipline, that small daily work that could help you improve and give you the satisfactory feeling that you’re going somewhere.

Inspiration has to find you working, and it can happen in a five minutes sketch done during a coffee break.

Inspiration has to find you working_Self-portrait_as_the_Allegory_of_Painting_(La_Pittura)_-_Artemisia_Gentileschi
"My illustrious lordship, I'll show you what a woman can do." Artemisia Gentileschi

The other day I timed myself, to prove my point. I started the timer: I sat down, opened my bag, took out my sketchbook and pencil, looked around myself, saw a bag lying on a table, drew the bag in the sketchbook with fast strokes, without eraser, just lots of lines until the right ones emerged, added a couple of crosshatched shadings, closed my sketchbook, put it away. 4 minutes. A coffee break.

It’s the basic step to build a routine. Every day, take out your sketchbook and draw a quick five minutes sketch. Every day you will remind your brain, your eyes and your hands how to work together, how to look at reality and record it.

You will make a little step on the learning curve, but after a week they will become seven, and after a month thirty and after a year you will ride on the back of hundreds of daily sketches that will help you move forward, that will help you create.

And in those five minutes, everyday, you will knock on the door of inspiration, reminding her that you too are listening.

Inspiration has to find you working.

Inspiration has to find you working_Self-portrait_at_the_Easel_Painting_a_Devotional_Panel_by_Sofonisba_Anguissola
"Life is full of surprises, I try to capture these precious moments with wide eyes." Sofonisba Anguissola

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