Sketchbooks: The Conduit for New Ideas

As an artist I am constantly on the hunt to gather new ideas. To make new connections and see new things to add to my next piece.. That's great... now where do you start looking for that? Outside? On Pinterest? In art books or in galleries? The answer is YES. Well in actuality it doesn't matter at all where you get that initial inspiration from.. there are so many viable options and it is really dependent on you as an artist - you will likely grow and change throughout you career and the sources you use to spark that initial flame will change too! The challenge then is how to capture the ideas these inspirations make within you. Sketchbooks are like your net in the river of creativity. I say

The Momentum Of Winning

When you win, you set a precedent. That win propels you forward and encourages you to win again... You must win as early in the day as you can - do the washing from the night before, wake up early, make your bed, exercise, meditate... Whatever a win looks like to you, especially if it is a small one! Once you have a small victory, which is more just the productive use of your time, you are much more likely to move onto the next and then the next and pretty soon you've had a productive day, week, month..... The same is true of loosing though - if you don't get those early wins, you not only don't win, you loose. If you leave the dirty washing your less likely to follow up on that email you n

What If The Opposite Were True

What if the thing you didn't want to do, the thing your were scared of, didn't think could or should work actually did? Would you reconsider your current actions? Would you reevaluate your assumptions? Or is your current course correct despite it? This thought experiment is so incredibly useful in getting to the bottom, the root, of why you make decisions. Much of the time we unconsciously proceed with our plans assuming they are correct - we change what we do now to fit an uncertain outcome. Very often this unknowingly shackles our possible decisions and prevents us from seeing the full picture. By asking this question we can help identify our unfounded beliefs. Often we consider options no

It's A Job

Making a business from you passion is the best way to level up. It weirdly does this by removing your emotion from the process. Loving what you do and feeling content is different from being emotional about it. Emotion is chaotic and not always on your side. Though you can soar with happiness you can also drown in negativity. The ideas is to iron out the creases and raise that average line every single day. Sounds boring? It's anything but. Having a job that keeps you busy, engaged and creatively problem solving is not only good for your health but is a whole lot of fun. View your art as a job - be passionate enough that it gives you a mission to wake up for but objective enough to know that

Actions And Thought: Two Sides of The Same Coin

We are doing-thinking beings. Our minds and bodies are made to create and through creation we learn and grow. There is an inseparable link between the physical act of performing an action and our human intellect. We don't learn by simply being told about something, it is why we have forgotten so much we have been taught in school - we learn through engagement, and engagement means action and creation. By creating we build experience and by making that creation a conscious process, by targeting the practice, by having intention, we grow leaps and bounds... Too little thought and too much action leads us to hit ceilings in our skill and wasted effort. We don't target the weaknesses - we repeat

What You Don't Need

Modern life is abundance so spending your time is more a matter of exclusion than inclusion. We ask questions in multiple areas, get overwhelmed by the noise back and ultimately end up without answers... Fickle blips instead of permanent purpose. We mistake our wants for our needs. We think we must keep up with every post, every update - everything 'new'. But how do we get back? How do we focus on the timeless instead of the most recent? What you choose NOT to do is the question you must ask yourself. Select fewer goals, hobbies and ambitions and then go incredibly deep within them. Exclude what is really unnecessary to reveal what you really care about... Instead of spreading yourself thin,

Something To Wake Up For

Success is purpose. It is waking up in the morning not for vague ideas like; beautiful painting or becoming a great artist... It is about waking up in the morning FOR something - something other than yourself; your art business, to paint those few hours at dawn, to problem solve... Often people confuse having a purpose with their dream... While dreams can often be vague and arbitrary, gleaned from an outside source - purpose comes from within. Instead of reaching up towards your goals, you reverse engineer them - working your way down to where you are currently, creating steps, vocalizing the process. Purpose is practical, actionable, tangible. Wake up for the journey - if you always keep b

Quality By Volume

Getting good means failing a whole lot. It means building a mass of experience. A mass which you can, after collecting, shape into something of quality. Whenever in doubt, err on the side of quantity, habit and consistency. Don't go all out, chips on the table - just a small bet, every turn. Showing up, being dealt a hand and going through one game is enough, for now. In time you win big. The first month is just floundering, the second you find your feet.. and gradually you level up. Quantity IS Quality. You do something enough it stops being scary. You do something enough it actually starts to become fun. You do something enough it becomes as easy as breathing. That's when the real creativi

Active Free Time

When we say: "free time" , what we really mean is "time to switch my brain off" Modern living and technology feeds us content and placates our motivations - it feels rewarding to watch films, play games and scroll through social media. These activities take minimal effort and, through catharsis, make us feel like we have earned it - like we have gone through the experience ourselves... That is not to say that being passive doesn't have its place - switching off is a needed balance to being on all the time. But often we default to it. Using time that could be spent on a hobby or activity that would ultimately make us more happy. The idea that free time means time dedicated to do nothing withi

Have Many Different Places To Think

What do easels, journals, social feeds, sketchbooks, code files and graph paper all have in common? They are all places to think. Being a creative, it is incredibly important to get your ideas out into the open - to make the intangible tangible and then refine... Not only this but you need a good format for these ideas, for your thinking - some thoughts are better expressed in words, some in an array of images, some as a mathematical equations or even a programming language. In all of these cases by bringing your ideas into a physical format, a format outside of your head really, it then allows you to think about it - your brain is free from storing the idea and can now instead act on it! Fi

The Art Of Practice

Practice. Discipline. Freedom. For all of the intellectualizing, the expounding, the words we put to things - we are doing creatures. We learn through activity, through creation, thinking is a muscular energetic activity - not a static one. Through practice we build experience - we build grounded ideas based on the real world, not our arbitrary opinion. Practice; conscious, targeted and consistent incremental effort and improvement is undervalued. What use is practice when you can spend time just making the thing as you go? If you can just turn up, have your idea and publish it - in this case the idea, the final outcome, has more value than the process. Both have their place and benefits. H

Hearing Too Much

Artists need to be good observers to effectively capture ideas. They need to be sensitive and practiced in seeking nuance and then abstracting it. Listening, being attentive, having an open mind and flexible assumptions are great things in this regard... However when you listen too much you get overloaded, the listening turns to hearing - the sense becomes nonsense and what was once clear becomes noisy. Listening too much to advice, to other people's truths, can become harmful. Listening is only useful when it is supplanted with action - one needs to get experience by physically doing something within the world and then later can attach the right succinct truth to it for it to fully become a

Artists Need To Be F.A.S.T

Being an independent artist is a double edged sword. You are free to pursue your own vision, releasing you of the burden of inadequacy - you don't need to beat anyone in the race if you are the only one in it, if your practice is so unique and original. Not having these external standards allows you to focus on your own ones - ones with more integrity, personality and depth. It allows you to forget what you previously thought you knew. Allows you to see the world objectively and with bewilderment - like a child. However following your own path is scary, lonely and uncertain. How do you know what will work? Is THIS or THAT worth pursuing... you're on your own and must be keenly perceptive and

Emotion And The Stories We Tell Ourselves

When we get emotional we become storytellers. A memory sticks out vividly in our mind. Meaning becomes clear; happiness, sadness, a lesson learnt. Information + Emotion = Long Term Memory. We don't remember a lot from school because we were bored most of the time - there was no emotion associated with the information. This is a great way to leverage how our biology works - but can also lead to bad habits.... When we have an annoying chore to do we will just get on with it, we don't need to feel inspired, we just get it done - it's objective: 'the dishes need cleaning so I better clean them'. Why then, when it comes to our most personally important tasks do we put them off? Because they are

The Warm-Up

When you prime your body to exercise it's like you are warming up the engines of your car. If you go full throttle and go it will cause long term damage - you need the time for the engine to get warmed up. When we do creative tasks we often see the mountain ahead, think of excuses not to do it - rationalize our laziness. If we just commit to 5 minutes of focused work - something we can all do, the rest follows, you build momentum, you warm-up your engines, start the wheels turning Don't think about the task, think of warming up for it - your body will take care of the rest...

Capture Your Ideas

Building capturing into your routine only does wonders for your growth both as an individual and professionally. Be it a journal, blogging, posting on social media, a sketchbook or a humble diary... This builds volume. Builds long-term perspective: it is amazing both how much we change and forget as well as remain the same - for better or for worse... Capturing your stream of thoughts records this for posterity and frames it in the long-term. From this mass of personal information - a daily thought, a visual idea, a feeling, you can clarify, aim and shoot at what you want. It allows you to learn about yourself... The net to capture thoughts that are often as slippery as fish in a stream....

Artistic Observation Is An Approach to Life

In many ways art is a response to observation. Something an artist sees, hears, thinks - reaction from stimulus. The degree to which you can express this and what connects with other people denotes it's truth. This is important because there are many things too nuanced, too complex and personal to express with words or any other means. We add words on top of artworks in order to explain, to express the expression we see and feel - but nonetheless, the work itself is the most succinct explanation. These nuances are what an artist sees and distills - they take the complex and abstract it into a visual, a song, a dance. They observe life and create from this observation. Learning about it by cr

People Turn Up For The Hooks But Stay For The Conversation

Gimmicks and hooks are great ways to get people to appear. To get initial interest, to have them show up. We are intrinsically lazy, energy conserving creatures - you gotta make it worth my while to come to you, there's got to be something shiny I better get out of this... And it better be damn easy for me to get. But people do not stay for gimmicks. Gimmicks are hollow, all surface and short in lifespan. People stay for the conversation, they stay to be educated, they stay for the hard part, the promise of something new, they stay for meaning. Meaning is deep. Meaning is slow. Meaning is difficult. That is why you do not casually pick up War and Peace but you will watch a silly cartoon like

Break That Monster Down

There is great power in small yet consistent contributions to your goals. Too often we dream and want but don't move for fear of tackling the great unknown, for taking on that giant monster. It is very hard not to think this way. You want to get in shape? All you see is the hundreds of hours ahead - nah I'd really rather do that tomorrow thanks. Who wouldn't? But the truth is this is our brain sabotaging us - and it is actually incorrect. You don't have to put in those thousand hours - you just need to put in 10 minutes today, piece of cake, stupidly simple. And that's the key. To break that monster down into stupidly simple steps that you do, every day, every couple every week. Whatever the

Worry About It When You Get There

Is the mantra for doing quality work at high quantity... It is a funny thing that the more you worry about something, the more you think on what is to come, what you aren't doing that very moment - the more difficult it becomes, the more frustrating, the less clear. You get stuck in the minutiae of implementation. The truth is our minds cannot accurately simulate a reliable scenario to realistic levels. So when you play those things out in your head, when you start to worry about negative factors that come into the equation - you overload your brain, so much that it can't think straight. We are doing machines. We think, then commit to an action. That's about as much as we should be overloadi

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