Getting Started: Motivation for starting your Art Journey

What better way to start a blog off than by talking about getting started? I see this question posed to talented artists time and time again. How do I start? Where do I start?

I still have problems getting started all the time. It is a recurring issue, and I can’t speak for any other artist, but I am fairly sure I am not alone. It is a issue you will face many times throughout your art journey. However, the simple answer is: anywhere. Just start. Emulate Jackson Pollock and spit on the page. Give yourself something to respond to.

Just start to write, scribble, or paint, your brain will start working to solve a problem. Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to attempt to beat this topic to death, and then step on its grave.

You might be saying, “but that still doesn’t answer my question.”  But it really does. If you are early in your art journey just start somewhere, anywhere. Process will come later. “But that’s not how (artist name here) does it.” How long has (artist name here) been working as an artist? 5, 10, 20 years? That’s why, they have started so many projects and they know how to get through the starting phase. You need to discover this too.

How often do we talk ourselves out of doing something we should do for reasons like: “that’s not how (artist name) does it.”,“I don’t know the right people.”, “School is expensive.”, “Art supplies are expensive.”, “I don’t have the right markers.”, “I don’t have a Cintiq, Photoshop, or a tablet.”, “I don’t have any ideas.” The list goes on and on.

Could these just be excuses we make to avoid inner turmoil and confrontation? Avoidance of those deep, dark questions: am I good enough? Was I born with the right talent? If I invest all this time will I be that good?

If these are the things holding you back, I can tell you that all you need is a pen and a piece of paper to practice. Start with the fundamentals if you need a place to start. One day, you’ll see that these will be the foundation for every image you create. The difference between the really good artists and not so good artists is time, and not letting nagging questions and problems hold them back.The only thing holding you back is you.

Here is another way to look at it. How many times have you seen someone’s collection of art books and said, “Man, I wish I had that? I will never have a collection like that.” And then done nothing to start your own? Keep in mind, you are seeing several years’ worth of items and books.  When the person started the collection, I bet they bought a book once every few months. Every artist has a couple terrible books in their collection that were bought only because they had no idea what to look for. Every time they see that book, they smile inwardly, knowing their collection had to start somewhere. Without a starting point we have nowhere to go, so just start.

“The only thing holding you back is you.”

Onward, Copic markers are amazing, but expensive. Better wait till Christmas or your birthday so someone else can foot the bill and buy that sweet collection, right? No. Why not? Because if you’re like me, that 36 or 72 marker collection is going to overwhelm you. What pen do I start with? How do I blend these? This looks like shit, I’ll just use a pencil.

The better option is to buy two markers for $5 each. (C1 & C5, T1 & T5, W1 & W5, or N1 & N5 would be my suggestions) Copic Markers and Refills for a good price. That’s two cups of coffee, or four energy drinks. (For how many times this example has been used, coffee stands should be out of business.)

Buy one pen every week for a full year, and you’ll have a nice collection of 42 pens. Give or take a few, because you need to buy some refill ink. If you aren’t refilling that pen, you’re just throwing it in the trash, along with your money.

Incoming Tangent: For $8 you can refill a pen about 15 times. Think of every refill as buying one new pen. That brings the total cost of that pen down to 86 cents per refill.  Buy one more refill and you are down to 67 cents per refill. That’s almost Bic ballpoint pen cheap.

The point being, instead of waiting for someone to foot the bill, you can take matters into your own hands, buy two markers, and practice everyday. By the end of the year, you will have a badass collection of markers and be far better at using them than had you waited for someone else to buy them for you.

“By the end of the year, you will have a badass collection of markers and be far better at using them than had you waited for someone else to buy them for you.”

Let’s bring this thing home. If you are like me you see all these awesome paintings, designs, and images in museums, books, and Google.  You wish so badly that you could be that good. You might often have the thought, “How will I ever be that good?” Relax and take a deep breath, you are looking at skills that took years, or even a lifetime to achieve. They started just like you need to start. They took it one hour, one day, one painting, or one drawing at a time. Eventually, all those ones add up eventually you will hit that magic 10,000.

Just start, who cares where or how. Just grab the nearest thing you can draw on and draw on it. Now! Your mind will do amazing things, if you let it. You just have to give it a push and turn the engine.

Last months enviroment thumbnail warm ups.
October’s enviroment thumbnail warm ups.They is a mix of pencil, Copic markers, and inkwash.
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