What’s the most helpful art advice you’ve received?

I love doing all sorts of art. It makes me happy to play with colours and shapes, and I even get a bit sad if I don’t do any art for a while.

Creative stuff can be hard sometimes - but so rewarding! There have been a few pieces of art advice that have really helped me over the years. Two favourites…

  • drawing isn’t a magic gift that some people have and others don’t. It’s like playing the piano - you can learn it! You wouldn’t expect to be able to sit down and play the piano instantly - but with some lessons and practice, pretty much anyone can learn to play competently - same with drawing!

  • there’s always a gap between what’s in my imagination and what I see on the paper - but the gap is a good thing! If there’s no gap, then I’m not pushing myself and not learning anything.

I’d love to hear what you have found helpful and encouraging as you make your art - please share!


This is so true. That gap helps us to progress toward the vision. Advice that I’ve been told:

  • Slow down and take time to do well.

  • Don’t touch the hot glue.

  • Wind extra bobbins before starting a sewing project. The bobbin in your machine magically knows when you have three inches left to sew, and will inevitably run out before you finish.


This wasn’t really “advice” , but it has stuck with me for years… I once went to an art exhibit with my sister. It was an exhibit of works by Mary Cassatt, and there were a lot of versions of the same image, tweaked in various different ways. So the “famous” picture we knew was almost never the artist’s first version of it.

My sister and I (both perfectionists from an early age), were astounded. Before that point, we both had an attitude of, “I just must not be any good” if our first artistic efforts yielded disappointing results. Cassatt (an artist we both admired) emphasized process over product, and demonstrated that a disappointing product could be improved if you just continued to play with it. Years later, my sister and I still talk about how we felt freed after that. Now it feels okay to just “play around” with art and make mistakes and learn as you go. Or to toss a first version but hang onto the idea and rework it.


Use the good beads! That one’s from @Edel. It freed me, honestly and truly changed my relationship with art.


@Magpie hugs precious sister, I needed to hear that tonight x


The only waist of supplies is supplies that just sit in the box.

It really freed me from feeling the need to make every thing I make be perfect. It doesn’t matter if I project isn’t completely wonderful as long as I’m making something.


What you are working on and/or creating is just practice for your next piece :slight_smile:


What was that Ira Glass chat about standards constantly raising? That. (I think someone had also posted it somewhere on LC already.)

Also, I’m glad you brought up practice. I have to admit it pains me to no end when people bring up the idea of “talent.” There always seems to be someone saying that they can’t do something because they don’t have the talent; on the flip side, it discounts the amount of time and work we’ve put into the activities where we’ve excelled.

Here’s the sound clip: https://vimeo.com/24715531

I especially love that he mentions producing a large body of work. We can’t do something once and expect results that look like mastery. I’ve seen so many potters try to make a specific thing once and give up, and it’s so sad every time. (Although, I might be a little overkill, as I’ll make a bunch of the one thing I want to practice… but that’s what practice is.)


Oh, I don’t know. I mean, yes of course that’s true in many cases but I am naturally good at some things I find easy while others, like illustrating, I have been trying to do for years with lots of lessons and practice and am still frankly awful at it, lol.
There’s something to be said for nurturing your natural talent too, what you are good at and enjoy can be the thing you work at and practice. It doesn’t have to be a struggle, not unless that’s what you are aiming for.


I’m enjoying thinking about all your thoughts!

I really struggle with this too - I think for me it’s particularly when the idea of talent gets tied in with not giving yourself “permission” or not feeling “good enough” to do something you’d enjoy doing. (Probably because I struggled with that stuff in the past and still do sometimes if I’m honest.) If you want to do something creative, just do it! enjoy the process and share the love

That is also an excellent point - I guess to extend the piano analogy, with practice most people could learn to play something on the piano, but some of us will always find it much easier to play the guitar or the saxophone, or knit a cardigan, or cook a gourmet meal, whatever it is. I do think some things come easier than others to different people, and why not nurture that thing, if it makes you happy to do?

I think it just makes me sad when friends let an idea like “I’m not talented” stop them from trying something that might bring them a lot of joy.


My once-upon-a-time crafty friend and I made up a saying:

It’s not a mistake, it’s art!

:art: :art: :art: :art: :art:

Meaning you can’t mess up art because art is not an exact science, it’s art!


Along the same thought, a local potter has been talking about someone (oh gosh, I can’t remember who)’s saying that “you can’t teach pottery” or something like that. Real art is the part that cannot be taught through technique practice or methodology, it’s what’s inside.

And also shouting out to my own official profession, the word “Educate” has root meanings more along the lines of “bring out” (not “cram in,” LoL).


I heard this in an art class I took awhile ago “you’re going to make A LOT of bad art so might as well get started now” :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: I found the expectation that every piece you make is going to be perfect a lot easier to let go of after I heard that.

I think most people have it in them to be some kind of artist and everyone has a thing they can do well with practice. Even if its just seeing the art and beauty in every day life-to me that counts as much as being able to translate that vision into art.


“Keep your hands wet” when tinkering with clay on the potter’s wheel


A practical piece of advice that really helped me paper crafting, was that most pages and things like ATCs look better with a border. Even if it’s just a line drawn, it anchors everything in the page.


I always feel like my ATCs are incomplete if I don’t ink the edges


I not only ink the edges but obsessively ink the edges of every bit of collage/text etc that I fussy cut out with tiny scissors :roll_eyes: Fixing the edges really makes stuff look finished


I often do the collage elements too, esp text, but not always.


I ink &/or outline edges too but I am very messy and sort of suck at doing it well, lol.


I have inked text ( words printed on card stock and cut out) then smeared the ink. After cursing I just embrace the smear and purposely smear it more. This works for my mixed media art ATCs.