Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Short Runway - Starting off as an artist in midlife

When I talk about midlife artists in this blog, I'm not talking about artists who are professional artists who have reached this point in life. Their experiences are completely different from ours. I'm talking about those of us who are really starting our art careers in midlife.

And I'm not talking about folks who are content to dabble, to just play with it.

I'm talking about those of us dead serious about becoming all we can be as artists, and expect to get paid to do it, probably don't have a formal education and certainly don't have experience in the "art world" at large.

How do you take off?

Our runway is short, we have a lot of work if we're to accomplish our goals. Here's general list of goals I think we share (feel free to comment and add your own)

1. To make art worth making.
2. To feel comfortable about being an artist. To be able to talk the talk, and walk the walk.
3. To be able to find our buyers.
4. To continue to grow.
5. To avoid common deadends.
6. To use technology both to learn and promote.

None of the others matter if the art isn't worth making. If the quality is poor, if it's unimaginative and boring, if the compositions are lacking. I've seen folks who have unimaginative, boring and amateurish pieces assume that it's their marketing that's lacking and that's why they can't sell. It's hard to say it...if all of your family and all of your friends are praising your work to high heavens...well then, it must be wonderful.

Especially if all you have is talent and no formal training and want to do realistic work, which seems to be what most of us midlife artists want.

Remember, the younguns in art school emphasizing realism are making art all day long, every day. Drawing is a daily warm up activity, not THE art activity. They are immersed in it. They critique and are critiqued. They are forced to try techniques they don't like, subjects they find boring, etc., and they are learning something every step of the way.

If you can take classes, even informal, community based classes, take them! Either way, I am convinced that the most important thing you can do to train your hands to do what your eye sees and your mind processes, is to draw every day. Every single day. Draw anything. Draw your dog, big gesture drawings. Draw your hand, draw the pillow, draw the computer mouse. Train that brain!

I'm (Mostly self teaching) American Animal Artist, Robin Zebley. My pet portrait site is . My art blog is I'd love your input.

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