ART INSPIRATION Artists magazine 1 Comment 3 min read

Unforgettable Art Advice

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WE ASKED…What’s a piece of art advice that you’ll never forget?

YOU ANSWERED…We put this question out to the Artists Network community and a selection of contributing artists and authors. The responses were both enlightening and inspiring.

This article originally appeared in Artists Magazine. Subscribe now so you don’t miss any great art instruction, inspiration, and articles like this one.

“I arrived in New York City, age 21, to study with the late Ronald Sherr at the National Academy of Design. When I’d completed my certificate course, I asked his advice: Return to Chicago or stay in New York? His advice was to stay, adding that I’d have my “best times and worst times” in the Big Apple. His advice altered my life’s course. I remained in the city for another 16 years. I did indeed encounter amazing opportunities along with the struggles common to young painters trying to make their way in the art world.”


“Always look forward, and trust your feelings more than your intellect. Painting is not a destination; it’s a journey. It’s easy to keep fussing on an individual painting—to obsess on perfection—as if there’s such a thing, when we should just attempt to do it better next time.”


“The best tip I got from an instructor was to visualize the figure in space. He draped material over the whole model to help us see the figure
in perspective.”


“When I asked [my teacher] if she always did it like that (substitute anything for ‘it’), she said, ‘Oh, Bonney, I don’t always do anything.’ Freed me up to try new things.”


“ ‘Paint as if you are a millionaire,’ meaning don’t hold back on supplies or how much you paint. Go all out, full steam. From my wonderful late professor, Edward Togneri.”


“After working all night on a graphite portrait I thought was good, my professor came by during critique and erased several large areas that he said needed to be corrected. I was mortified, but he said, ‘We mustn’t be too precious about our work. What we made, we can always remake, and better.’ And he was right!”


“Another art professor I knew, Robert Barnes, said ‘Art is a social activity.’ He encouraged us to go around the room during breaks and talk to our fellow students. He had one of us make coffee and he brought goodies to class. It’s hard to be a success as an introverted artist and your life is richer if you have friends with common interests. Plus networking…”

—Kelly Robin 

“Every design teacher I had at Pratt: ‘It’s a good start.’ After staying up all night to create something I thought was fabulous, I figured it was done. Finito! Of course it wasn’t! I now say those words to myself each time I embark on a new creative project!”

—Jeanine Colini Design Art 

“My high school teacher, Mrs. Johnson, told me to stop rushing my art because people were buying it, but enjoy the process of creating the art. To this day, 42 years later, I make sure to collect an upfront deposit and enjoy the process of creating rather than just selling.”

—Keith Darnell Wilson 

“After a student complained that the given assignment was stifling and limiting his artistic expression, the wise college professor said, ‘See how creative/expressive you can be within the confines/parameters of the given assignment.’”

—Janis Goldblatt 

 “’Never make yourself irreplaceable. If you do, you aren’t doing your job right.’ The idea behind that statement was to make sure you were always training the next generation, so that when you moved on (promoted, moved, retired), your colleagues weren’t left without anyone who could fill in for you.”

—Carol Beverly 

“My mentor, Jack Lewis, worked during the WPA era and captured ‘the elementals,’ the everyday people in their everyday environment. That’s what I wanted to do, too! Jack said that was why he liked my work because my focus was on what I wanted to say and I was saying it. He said to be a successful artist you have to focus on what cannot be left unsaid. Like positive and negative spaces, what you put in is as important as what you leave out. 

—Parke Green Galleries 

See color with an artist’s eye. I’ll never forget a plein air session with the great Stephen Quiller. He pointed out some distant bushes (that were just gray to my novice eyes) and said, ‘Look at those lavender bushes.’ It was like being struck by lightning, because he was right! They weren’t gray, but a soft shade of lavender.”

—Carol Nelson Mixed Media Art School 


We want to hear from you, too! Leave your comments below and let us know what piece of art advice you’ll never forget!

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