What You need to Know to Become An Artist

Sometimes, in order to become what you are determined to be… you have to believe in the tranformative power of possibility.

Art is all about taking the ordinary and turning it into something that is unique to you and those around you.

 Learning that  there is  real  power at work when putting a brush to a canvas, or a pencil to paper allows you to  embrace the idea  that being as artist is not some unattainable goal just for those “born with talent”.

 You start by trying out things, exploring  ideas, and thinking big… but finish by knowing that small steps …taken forward with dicipline, and some repetitive work are the keys to tangible and real artistic creations.

First of all… there are a few basics to get through…and We need to  talk about them

! What about Drawing? How much skill do you need?

Drawing has almost become a dirty word… most beginners gag when I talk about it… color is so much more pleasing and fun to most… They plead with me… give me a pattern… I can’t draw… yet they are drawing everytime they sign their name… so let’s reframe what drawing is.

1. Drawing  is using a line in some manner to encompass space and create or transform the area into a shape. Then the shapes look like things… a box becomes a house or even a  rock if the lines are curved… etc.  and on and on.

2. What about color…. you need the 3 primary colors of a red, a yellow, and a blue…plus a white and black… to create any color you might need. There are many, many books on how to mix and use color. But you only need to remember, understand,  and analyze what color you are observing.

  Take a minute to ask yourself a few questions…is the color of the object you are looking at… more red than blue? Or is it more green,  [green is made by yelow mixed with blue] than orange [yellow mixed with red]? or is it dull [color mixed with black or white]  or bright [ the pure form of the color mixture not tinted with white or black]?   Light and bright colors advance… dark and dull colors recede.That’s it… the principles  of  color in a nutshell.

How about design… or better known as composition… it can be anything, in any arrangement. Realism demands a few boundaries… as in, the objects in the distance are usually smaller than the objects in the front of a painting… big shapes come forward …small shapes recede. Curved and flowing compositions  are more restful  and tranquil than diagonal or or static lines..

Tools… buy a few brushes and painting knives…  then play with them until you know exactly what they will do… Hold them ,,, beat them on the canvas… brush themback and forth… notice if they are soft against you hand or do they feel stiff and uncomfortable to touch…. Are they long haired… that means they hold more paint but it needs to be in a more liquid state, like an ink pen they are writing tools……. if they are stubby and short… they are scubbers… they will not carry a lot of paint and need to be moved back and forth. with some pressure on them…… What does the stroke look like if you place the tip down easily and then begin pushing on it?

You get familiar with your tools by training you brain to remember what does what…Ask… Observe… try out all the possibilities.  Observe again… is it big or little or tall or short… fuzzy or slick…did I push or pull on the brush?  o.k. you get it. Prove to yourself you can paint… paint anything… or just try and abstract … any creative activity can boost self confidence… as long as you aren’t condemning  the attempt every step of the way.

    Honor yourself by patting yourself on the back… hang it up and frame it… then dare anybody to tell you it is no good… The world is full of perfect people… they are the ones who never do anything new. They look to the trends for their fashion… and the man at the paint store tells them about nice neutral colors for their homes. Sorry just couldn’t resist…. What it means to be an artist is that you are willing to continue to learn… that you have the courage to fail… and then get up and try again… and you never get bored because everyday is a transformative experience…at your fingertips. Living with possibilities… ahhh  how sweet it is.


  1. Just read your newsletter where you questions other artists what they wanted to learn. I have been wanting instuctions on how to paint of Aqua Bord in waterecolor. I have tried it and not sure what I am doing. Help, help.

    I have launched out on a large painting in oil of subjects that I have been afraid to do, and am breaking a few rules, but it has been a great learning experience plus a lot of work.

    Thanks for your newsletter.

  2. Jamie Carter says

    Dear Artist…. Sometimes the rules are good and sometimes they get in the way of our “vision” or transformative powers…. being creative is about going out on a limb every now and then to push your art to a new level. Good for you. I will have to do a little research on “aqua board” and get back to you so i can help you there a little better. Thanks for asking. Jamie

Speak Your Mind