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  • Writer's picturemarti mcginnis

Embracing Your Inner Artist: Habits That Can Transform Your Creative Practice

Maya Hayuk in front of one of her walls

Hey, you've lived a life full of rich experiences and stories to tell. But let's be honest, except for your co-conspirators, probably nobody wants to sit through a long-winded monologue about your glory days. That's where art comes in! Through your creations, you can communicate your messages, what Life has taught you, in a way that is both engaging and visually stimulating. Plus, you never know who might stumble upon or even seek out your artwork and be inspired by your perspective. So go ahead, get messy, and share your stories with the world. Who knows, maybe you'll even become the next Swoon, Lady Pink, Miss Van, Faith47, or Maya Hayuk,. (celebrated female street artists one and all.)

Figuring out what you want to say with your art can be a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. You have lived through many unique experiences, and these experiences can be a great starting point for your art. Ask yourself, what has been meaningful to you throughout your life? What lessons have you learned that you want to share with others? Don't be afraid to explore these themes and see where they take you. Remember, your art is a reflection of who you are, so let your experiences be your guide.

Of course, it's not all serious business. Sometimes, figuring out what you want to say with your art can be as simple as asking yourself, "What would my cat do?" Hear me out: cats are masters of doing whatever they want, whenever they want, and they don't care what anyone else thinks. So why not take a page out of their book? Embrace your inner feline and create art that makes you happy, without worrying about what

Marti McGinnis: "Cube Cube" sketchbook study

anyone else might think. Who knows, maybe your art will end up inspiring others to follow their own passions, just like your cat inspires you.

Here are 4 main ways you can begin to build your personal art practice.

1. Make Time for Art

"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home." - Twyla Tharp

Making time for art is one of the most important habits you can develop as an artist. Whether it's 30 minutes a day or a few hours on the weekends, setting aside time for art on a regular basis can help you stay motivated and make progress. Here are some tips for making time for art:

  • Wake up a little earlier to create a morning routine that includes art.

  • Carve out time in your schedule specifically for art.

  • Find, make or claim a designated workspace that is free from distractions.

  • Schedule art time in advance and let nothing else take that time - it is now sacred!

  • Hey, try setting an alarm for 15 minutes of drawing or painting each day. Even a short amount of time can help you stay consistent and build momentum.

  • Make art while listening to your favorite podcast, audiobook or playlist. This can help make your art time feel like a relaxing and enjoyable activity.

  • Try making art in a different location, such as outside in nature or at a coffee shop. Changing up your environment can help spark creativity and make your art time feel fresh and exciting.

As you start to make time for art, remember to be patient with yourself. It's okay if your first few attempts don't turn out how you want them to. The important thing is to keep practicing. As you stick with it several magical things happen!

  • Your build confidence.

  • Your artist’s voice begins to reveal itself.

  • You start to create a healthy addiction to your practice.

"Art making is not about accumulating likes or followers, but about connecting with yourself and others." - Lisa Congdon


2. Practice Consistently

"The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke." - Jerzy Kosinski

Practice is essential to improving any skill, and art is no exception. Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, practicing on a regular basis can help you build muscle memory and improve your techniques. Here are some tips for practicing consistently:

  • Set goals for yourself, such as finishing a certain number of sketches or paintings each week.

  • Focus on one technique or skill at a time and practice it until you feel comfortable with it.

  • Use reference materials such as books, magazines, or online tutorials to learn new techniques.

  • Try out new materials and experiment with different approaches to your art.

  • Practice drawing or painting upside down. This can help you focus on shapes and proportions rather than the recognizable features of an object, and can help you improve your observational skills.

  • Set a timer for 10 minutes and try to complete a drawing or painting within that time frame. This can help you quit fussing and belaboring and begin to learn to work quickly and go with your own flow.

  • Try practicing with your non-dominant hand. This can be a fun and challenging exercise that can help you break out of your usual habits and discover new propensities.

"Being a good artist isn't about talent or fame, it's about work and persistence." - Emily Jeffords


3. Seek Feedback and Critique

"An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision." - James Whistler

Getting feedback and critique from other artists can help you identify areas for improvement and grow as an artist. Joining a local art group, taking classes, or participating in online communities can provide opportunities for feedback and critique. It can be daunting to share your work with others, but remember that everyone started somewhere and constructive criticism can be incredibly helpful. Here are some tips for seeking feedback and critique:

  • Look for local art groups or classes in your area to connect with others and become a part of a community.

  • Participate in online art communities such as forums or social media groups.

  • Attend art shows or exhibitions and talk to other artists about their work.

  • Seek out constructive criticism and be open to feedback that can help you improve.

  • Try participating in a "draw and critique" session with other artists. This involves drawing or painting something within a set time frame and then sharing your work with the group for feedback and critique.

Need weekly inso? Join my online Friday Art Open Studio Group. Info here.

"Feedback is essential for growth, but you have to be open to it and willing to let go of your ego." - Flora Bowley


4. Experiment and Take Risks

"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it." - Kurt Vonnegut

Art is a great opportunity to experiment and take risks. Trying out a new medium or subject matter can help you grow and discover new techniques. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something different. Remember that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process, so don't get discouraged if things don't turn out perfectly. Here are some tips for experimenting and taking risks:

  • Try out new materials and techniques that you've never used before.

  • Experiment with different subject matters, even if they are outside of your comfort zone.

  • Take risks with color and composition, and see where it takes you. Be silly or precise - unhinged or scientific.

  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes or to have failed attempts. First of all, mistakes are a natural part of the learning process - but secondly, they can lead to amazing breakthroughs!

  • Try using unexpected materials in your art, such as coffee grounds, kitty litter, or natural elements like sticks and stones. This can help you think outside the box and create unique and interesting textures and patterns.

  • Experiment with incorporating other art forms into your work, such as poetry or music. This can help you create a more layered and complex piece of art. Mix it up!

  • Take inspiration from other artists or art movements that are outside of your usual style or interests. This can help you discover new techniques and approaches that you may not have otherwise considered. Not a Manga fan? Time to get a manga graphic novel and experiment with the shapes and lines in your own work. Same too with Nascar or angsty art, or graffiti, or…..

"To make art is to be fearless, to take risks, and to let go of the need for perfection." - Holly Coulis


Final Thoughts

Becoming a better artist is all about developing habits that help you stay motivated, consistent, and open to learning. By making time for art, practicing consistently, seeking feedback, and experimenting with new techniques and subjects, you can improve your skills and create art that brings you joy and fulfillment. Remember that everyone has to start somewhere, and that it's never too late to learn and grow as an artist. So pick up your paintbrush, pencil, or collage materials, and start creating!

Me? I've been making art for decades, but I still keep after it, making art just about every day. Here are the 4 pages I painted in my sketchbook yesterday.

Need weekly inso? Join my online Friday Art Open Studio Group. Info here.


Books to inspire by Flora Bowley

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