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The Practical Guidebook to Approaching your Art by John Kidd

There have been some fantastic and quite moving blog posts from very interesting people with great stories to tell. I’m not one of those people. I’m a very practical person with a background in engineering and so my blog will, hopefully, take on a more practical approach.

First I’d like to tackle a few of myths surrounding art that are usually voiced by people who don’t actually create anything themselves!

Anything can be art

No, you can find art in almost anything that appeals to you personally, but when you deliberately sign a false name onto a piece of lavatorial porcelain - it’s a con and it’s detrimental to all the creatives who put their heart and soul into their art.

There are no rules to art

There are hundreds of practical rules about what materials can and cannot be used together. There are gallery and social media rules about what can be shown and we all have our own personal rules about how we work.

I try to treat the process of filling my Rapidographs in the same way as a Chinese artist treats the ritual of prepping and grinding their ink and centering themselves before starting to paint. If I didn’t, the temperamental nature of technical pens would drive me insane and leave me in no fit state to draw anything!

You should keep sketchbooks and keep all your prep work

No, you should do what’s right for you. My engineering training means that I always approach a blank piece of paper with a strong idea of what’s going to go on it. The idea of people seeing anything other than the finished product fills me with dread, that’s my way, but you have to find your own path.

You should draw every day

Again, no, for some that’s just not practical and for others that pressure is off putting. You should try to create as often as the urge takes you, and on the occasions when it’s just not working, don’t beat yourself up. Go and do something completely different to take your mind off it. I go and do something practical like fixing an engine, for you it could be a walk in the park or baking a cake.

Next I have a few suggestions for anyone doubting their ability:

Art isn’t a competition, stop comparing your work to other artists and just try to create what’s in your soul. Don’t compare the piece you’ve just finished to something you’ve seen in a gallery. They have the benefit of perfect framing and lighting and your “fresh eyes." When you’ve finished a picture, stick it on a wall where it will catch the light well and then walk away, come back a little later and see what you think.

Finally, framing can make a huge difference! If you are pleased with a piece of work take the time to mount and frame it properly, you’ll be amazed at the difference that can make!

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