Dear Art-Loving Friends,
You and I may already know one another from our magazines, conventions, art instruction videos, painter events, and social media.
Or perhaps you’ve seen me on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube LIVE every day at noon. Or maybe we’re just meeting for the first time.
One way or the other, I want to share something I discovered entirely by accident during the COVID quarantine.
I also discovered a giant need that, once uncovered, will be one of those “aha” moments. It will make total logical sense as you slap your forehead and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Let me start out by saying that aside from being an art publisher and art marketing trainer, I’m a painter. But you don’t want to make the rookie mistakes I made or take the long, winding, uphill path I took to learn painting.
In fact, I want to save you the trouble. No one should go through that much time and pain to master painting. They say “no pain, no gain,” but I had “pain with no gain”!
Being a better painter should be easy, right?
Well, it’s not. No matter what anyone tells you, the biggest secret of all is brush mileage. The more you paint, the better you will become.
But, sadly, that’s not entirely true.
I know, because I spent a lot of years practicing bad painting, and instead of practice making me better, I was just getting better at painting badly.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I tried everything.
I listened to everyone’s advice, but, looking back, I see I missed what I now call the exponential curve. It’s something I discovered during COVID that has turned out to be a learning phenomenon.
You see, every day during quarantine, for the past 90-plus days, I have been giving people one-hour samples of art instruction videos I’ve produced. I’ve also been listening and talking to a lot of people.
I discovered that the people who stuck with the free lessons day in and day out, and painted along with the videos, started to see exponential growth in their painting.
Many of these same people had been doing what I’d been doing. They thought they were on the right path, but had been practicing bad painting and reinforcing things that hurt their painting instead of helping it.
Is this making any sense?
Their bad painting had either come from being self-taught and missing key foundational principles, or even through getting instruction from someone who was missing the important full set of foundational principles.
And the more I studied it, the more I realized it was a combination of things that included concentrated learning time, variety of subjects, observing things they never would have chosen for themselves, repetition, community interaction, and exposure to fresh ideas that were outside of their comfort zone.
You see, it turns out your comfort zone is the enemy of growth.
Being lulled into a false sense of security, even feeling pretty good about your painting, as I was, can actually prevent growth because you’re not feeling that growth is needed.
Sadly, many of us get stuck.
We tell ourselves, “I’m happy where I am, I don’t need to get better as a painter” until the dreaded day hits when you hang up your brushes out of frustration.
It’s an old story.
We love painting, we’re passionate every day, we paint a lot, and then we get cozy and comfortable with our painting.
But suddenly, frustration sets in because we discover things we can’t figure out and problems we can’t solve. We hammer away at them day after day, but before long we give in, give up, put our paint gear on a shelf in the garage, and say, “This painting thing isn’t for me.”
Then you wake up 20 years later without having painted.
No one ever expects this to happen.
Worse, you never really get as good as you want to be at painting.
This is exactly what happened to one of my daily viewers. He said he had given up out of frustration 20 years ago and my daily videos kicked him back into gear (thank goodness!). I could really identify with him because I have lived through this very thing myself.
I was excited about painting, and I thought I’d do it the rest of my life. Then that moment hit, frustration took over, and the effort was no longer worth the pain.
“I’ll just put things away for a couple of months,” I told myself. Before long, years had passed.
All that time invested, and I had nothing to show but some below-average paintings. It was really disturbing for me. I feel lucky that I was able to come out of this “art coma.”