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What It Takes To Be A Successful Artist

Updated on December 11, 2009

A Joint Venture

"Day at the Beach" by L. Thykeson and K. Thykeson
"Day at the Beach" by L. Thykeson and K. Thykeson

Who Decides Success When it Comes to Art?

Many may look at the painting to the left, and hate it. Others may look at it and love it. When creating something, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, and most importantly, in the creator or artist. What I would like to instill into others is the fact that you should create not for the opinions of others, but for yourself! Art belongs to the artist. Not to those who look at it or judge it. When and if you decide to sit down and paint on a canvas or paint a picture using words and rhyme, play in clay or pottery, try ceramics or sculpture, or paper mache' or jewelry making, floral arranging or found pieces collages, the end result belongs to you, the creator-the artist. What you create, whether you keep it, sell it or give it away, will always bear a piece of you within it. It is an extension of your soul. That is where art, in any form, comes from. The creative process comes from your heart and soul. That is why it is so important for us all to find a way to reach within and bring out some of what is within.

Many people have told me of a strange phenomenon that they face when first beginning to explore the wonderful world of art. It is the strange feeling of being afraid to begin! I used to teach beginning art lessons, and each one of the women involved told me during the first session that they were sitting there, looking at a blank white canvas, and were literally afraid to begin their painting. So, I sat down and talked to them in an open session and we explored this attitude together in a kind of therapeutic way, if you will. They were all afraid and confused about where exactly on the canvas to begin. They were each sitting there looking at a white, blank canvas, and had this fear of messing it up. They were afraid that they were going to do something "wrong". Although I had never had actual lessons myself, I understood how they felt. I told them that the way I looked at it, there was no "wrong" way to begin, just paint what you see. I then explained to them that everyone "looked" at things, but the one thing that separated us from each other was what we SAW when we looked at something. Each of our perspectives would be different, so therefore, just paint what they SAW. Once we got past that point, they all relaxed, and we went on to actually beginning to slap some paint around. Many of them left totally exhilarated by the experience and told me later that these lessons were the highlight of each week for them. One of the women discovered a wonderful ability to paint gorgeous portraits, and last time I saw her work, she was doing a beautiful painting of one of her granddaughters. She had never even picked up a brush before, and in a matter of a month or so, she was doing beautiful work, because she had overcome her fear of beginning!

Many of us have been yearning for a creative outlet, but the art world has a way of intimidating us. If you listen to all of the so-called "experts", they all come across as being extremely aloof, super critical, and think "art" has to go by certain standards (theirs) or it doesn't qualify as "real art". This is precisely why I have never joined any art societies or clubs, such as the one we have in our own town here. Every month or so, they have a "juried show", where these people involved in this club enter their work, and the winner is usually photographed and a photo of them shows up in the local paper and their work is put on display in a local bank or somewhere like that. BIG DEAL... I don't like the idea of having my art or anyone else's compared to someone else's and then "judged". This whole process, in my honest opinion, has worked to intimidate people from becoming artists and enjoying the creative side of their life! They have become afraid to even start, afraid they won't measure up to the so-called standards of the art critics and others. What a shame. Don't let ANYONE OR ANYTHING hold you back from enjoying art-learn to play again and enjoy the almost childlike joy of true expression. You will never regret it! More later on this subject and ways you can enjoy yourself and even maybe make some money! Please let me hear from you if you become inspired and make something-I would love to see what YOU "see"!


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    • profile image

      stoneyy 7 years ago from USA Pacific Northwest

      Don't recall if it youtube or metacafe that had the four or five segments of the portrait 'Victoria' by Johnnie Lillidahl.

      Yep. Paint what interests you and if someone doesn't like it-that's fine. Did you reach, or get closer, to your desired end result? Was it fun playing and exploring? Fantastic.

      One can enter their work in your local county fair. Yes, it is 'judged,' but its by amateurs so it isn't important. I figure everyone who enters wins by doing so. After all my hard work, I'm happy as a clam that people are seeing it.

      In another area you mentioned you like exchanging art work and such. is a free site covering 'everything under the sun.' A lot of the site is open without registration while others require registration. At any point in time there are all sorts of exchange projects ongoing which can be joined. I've got works in the hands of collectors around the world.

    • Laura Thykeson profile image

      Laura Thykeson 8 years ago from Central Texas


      welcome and glad you came by! I also like working from photos, and will sometimes print them out in black and white to really give me a good reference of the shadows and "lights and darks" so to speak. I would love to be able to capture portraits. That is the one thing that I haven't been able to grasp, and have never been satisfied with my results when trying one. I guess it's just practice and more practice for me in that area! Maybe we cab stay in contact and you can teach me some pointers!

      Laura T

    • rvsource profile image

      rvsource 8 years ago


      First of all, thanks for becoming a fan! Secondly, I loved your hub!

      I think the best part of it is when you talked about "where to begin." I think that is a big hangup for most that want to attempt painting, drawing or whatever. I am a sketch artist and I don't think there is a right or wrong place to start. The old term "Just do it" applies here for sure.

      One other thing about art, at least for me. If anyone has ever listened to Eckhart Tolle and the "Power of Now" you will understand this. To me art is a way to get away from the everyday trap of getting lost in our minds of thought. Art makes TIME stand still for me and I can get lost in it. It's totally inspiring if you pick a good reference photo to work from.

      Just my thoughts and I think I'm going to join your fan club as well.


    • Laura Thykeson profile image

      Laura Thykeson 8 years ago from Central Texas


      I love reading your hubs, and if your art is nearly as good, I would probably love it also! I agree with you wholeheartedly-feedback can be great, I guess I just don't like being part of a "group" so to speak...Feedback is great, and I got a ton of it when I was doing shows, fairs, commission work, etc., but the "Guild" here in my area is a bit too "stuffy" for me, lol!


      You go for it, and follow your heart to whatever art road it takes you! Your joy of creating will show in your art!

      Laura T

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      I receive much joy just from doing the art whether it be watercolor, oil painting or drawing. If another person appreciates it, it is nice, but not necessary. To me it is a way of expressing myself. Each person has a different idea what art is supposed to be, so trying to sell your art is always tricky. Thanks for the hub.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Great pep talk and I agree with you Laura, that you should never let other people and critics affect your art making. I do however, think you should show it to other people. Like you, I haven't found much use in fraternizing in artists groups, but I have shown my art at many public venues and received a lot of criticism. Just remember, anyone says something about your art and you don't agree, they're probably full of bologna!

      Great article,