When a lot of people talk about “seeking inspiration”, they often have completely different definitions for the term. To some, it’s the way nature creates the most beautiful scenes through apparent co-incidence. To others, it may be a particular book, movie or piece of music that makes their spidey senses tingle.
To me, it’s often work done by other visual artists.Being a very visual person myself, nothing makes me want to grab a pencil or a paintbrush more than a gorgeous colour scheme or a stunning image composition.
So how does watching other artists at work help you, really?
The answer is simple. It teaches you how to think, rather than what to think.
When you start a new creative project, your first step will likely be to decide where to begin. This is, of course, the most crucial step, but it is also the most sensitive to procrastination. Should frustration or boredom set in, you can practically assume that piece will never reach completion.
Because artists can take anywhere between a few hours to several weeks on a project, a lot of us constantly upload Work In Progress (WIP) shots to our social media, just to keep a constant flow of content.
These shots are truly a goldmine of knowledge, because you can see the exact point the artist has started at, and even points where they’ve had to call it a day and take a break. Not only does this give you a fair idea of the direction of progress, it also teaches you that it’s okay to leave a piece when you’ve worn yourself out.
Sometimes, I work for five to six hours at a stretch. Often, the tiredness adds to impatience, and I absolutely hate how the progress shot looks. In this situation, watching other people go through the same issues and end up with a masterpiece can be incredibly comforting. I’ve managed to save several paintings, thanks to WIPs!
Hold yourself to a higher standard.
At some point or other, every artist has come across another much more talented than themselves. Whatever your skill level, there will always be someone who’s doing far better than you are.
These are the artists you should be aiming to be like.
It is incredibly flattering to receive compliments like “Oh I wish I could draw even half as well as you do!” and I’m forever grateful for all the praise I receive myself, but dwelling solely on these is a surefire way to stay stuck where you are.
Instead, surround yourself with work that is of a much higher quality than yours is. Look at all the little details they have focused on, that you would have missed. Learn how long they take on each piece, and teach yourself to be patient for that long. But more importantly, know that thought it may take months or even years, you can reach that point.
And once you do, move on and find a new, even better muse.
Learn from their mistakes.
No, I don’t mean it in a don’t-repeat-their-errors kind of way. Instead, learn how to make mistakes, and how to make peace with it.
There have been far more instances than I can remember where I’ve been so frustrated with a drawing not going the way I want it to go, that I forgot I was human. As artists, we put so much pressure on ourselves to express exactly what we’re thinking, we forget that we’re limited not only by our medium, but also by our bodies.
The important thing is to know when to step away and rethink your strategy. To show exactly what I mean, here’s a beautiful speed paint video by one of my absolute favourite digital artists, Dmitriy Prozorov, aka TamplierPainter on Youtube. Notice how he changes the hair several times until he is completely pleased with the result.
Haste makes waste, and with how expensive and time consuming art can be, none of us can afford a waste. So take a breath. It’s okay to rethink your strategy, and even change it completely if need be!
And just to end this post on a super inspirational note, here’s some more amazing artwork to get you going!
As always, I truly hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, and please do leave your thoughts and comments below!
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Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a lovely day!