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Art and the Dilettante, Myth Busting, Part 2



Have you ever heard someone refer to an artist as a dilettante? Maybe they said someone was just a dabbler or an amateur. Maybe it is even you saying that about yourself. I have had students say they like to do so many different forms of art, portraits, landscapes and abstract. The “real” art establishment will say you are then not a serous artist since you can’t seem to focus and find your real medium. Now let’s bust these myths and give you some “real” guidance.

#1. Be Serious

The first one to bust is that art must be serious. I have had peers tell me that I should never refer to making art as fun or playing. It is serious work and we must maintain a diligent practice in order to further our careers. That sounds too much like a real job to me. It sounds like work and a hard way to make a living. Do you think of your day job as the real work and when you are finished with that or when you retire then you get to play? I am not saying that your art must earn a living or that you need to quit your day job, I just want to say that are is fun.

Make play your priority and you will find it. How often have you gone to work and spent too many hours doing for others and then had no energy left at the end of the day to enjoy your time? Just like taking care of your health, your creativity needs to take priority. When you allow yourself to play you will reenergize everything else in your life. You will have more enthusiasm for the other obligations, relationships and I bet you will have less stress and even sleep better. You think you don’t have the time? Really? Put your social media down for an hour and take out the watercolors or sketchbook. You don’t need a lot of room or expensive material. A pencil and paper will suffice. The answer is to just begin. Let your stress and worries disappear for an hour. Doodling and daydreaming are good for the soul. Repeat daily.

How can I make such claims? I have seen it in my own life and in the lives of hundreds of students over the years. I call my art play, not work. I allow my inner creative soul to have free reign rather than thinking I need to make certain size pieces to be sold or I should paint another dog painting because it sold and everyone loves dogs, right. Yesterday there was a comment on a piece I had posted that the person admired how I let the art come out and not let my head rule. That was one of the best compliments. There is an exercise in my online class that has the students drawing, doodling and just painting like a child. Then they come back and learn how to layer with color and design with composition. They have said how liberating and yet challenging this exercise is.

#2. You're a Dilettante

The other myth to bust is that of being a dilettante or a dabbler. Not everyone aspires to be a famous artist. Most folks want to learn a new skill and have an enjoyable hobby so don’t let these sticklers bother you. The other thing about trying many different things is you will expand your creativity. You might begin drawing or painting and then you learn about mixed media where you can put all kinds of things into your creations. As you add fabrics or wires into your work you discover you love textile art. You begin to add dimensional pieces to your work and before you know it you are making sculptures. After writing about your process you reignite your passion for poetry. One idea leads to another when you keep your imagination active and follow your curiosity.

I encourage exploration in my online self-paced courses and workshops. I even have a brand-new workshop available for only $39 for the next few days only. And in my next next 3-month course will discover many tools and techniques that become the foundation for your creativity. We play with lots of mediums and materials. The course is structured for you to either follow along or you can learn the techniques and apply them to your own work. Some people come with an art practice in place and they want to expand their knowledge of techniques. Others begin with as a blank slate and as they take it all in, they begin to develop their own authentic voice. This course will open for registration soon and I hope you find your way into the course. The best part is the support you receive along the way.

Learn how to exercise your curiosity muscle and enter with an open mind. Remember that Leonardo di Vinci was the first famous dilettante and he became known as the Renaissance man. I believe we need some Renaissance Women now.

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