How to Make Art a Hobby

Hey all! I've been talking with friends recently, and although they love the idea of creating art, they've expressed an overwhelming discouragement because they "can only draw stick figures." Here are some tips to making art a hobby, actually enjoying it, and being proud of what you've made.

Art is a beautiful expression. I love seeing how individuals can craft something unique, just from the workings of their minds. As every person has unique handwriting, so every person has a unique artistic voice with which to speak.

1. Experiment with Different Mediums

Markers, pencils (graphite or colored), charcoal, pastels, chalk, watercolor, acrylic, oil, gouache...the options are endless. Get some paper and start making!

Are you drawn to making abstract art? Pick 3 colors that you think complement each other, let your hand wander the page, and see what emerges.

Do you prefer a concrete subject? Find a photograph for reference, or draw from life. When I'm in a rut, I search Pinterest or Google for inspiration. Sometimes, I set out some fruit in a still life arrangement. Whatever works for you!

*****Remember - if you're using photos for reference, and there is no deviation from the photo, under no circumstances can you sell your finished piece. This is stealing, and although it happens often in the art world, it's majorly unethical. Of course, you're allowed to use several different photos at once as reference, and your original piece can end up being a Frankenstein, of sorts. Just ask yourself, "Is the finished product too similar to the reference photo?" If the answer is yet, just let it live in your sketchbook*****

2. Sign Up for an Art Class

This might be the most intimidating of all the tips I have listed, but it's perhaps the most valuable. Even masters enroll in classes from time to time, to sharpen their skills or to learn a new technique. Art classes are not above or beneath anyone - they are meant to be a fun and structured way to learn to express and draw out your talent.

Art classes can be found by Googling "Art Classes Near Me." Maybe a community college, a community center, or an art gallery will be hosting a class or workshop, in just the medium that suits you.

3. Make Something Every Day

When I first began making art, I knew that I had a long ways to go, technique-wise. I was determined to sit down every day and watch my art improve. This takes patience, and is not for the faint of heart...but to start out in short spurts is probably best for commitment-phobes. Instead of doing a 30-day art challenge, try a 7-day art challenge to keep you on track. That way, you'll have a subject already planned for each day, and all you have to do is set aside 10-30 minutes to complete the art.

4. Attend Art Museums and Gallery Openings

Art museums are invaluable. Usually free, and always filled with treasures, it's easy to get lost in the moment while browsing a museum. I've been attending museums since I was a kid (thanks, Mom!) and still, whenever I enter those doors, a kind of reverence quiets me. I get to slow down and contemplate another artist's musings. It's a wonderful way to spend a rainy weekend, too. (It's raining outside, as I type this :-P)

For gallery openings, you'll want to get in touch with a local art gallery. Take a look at their website for specific events, or walk in and ask. It's always a good idea to support local art, and the least you can do is show up. You'll become acquainted with local artists and once you're invested, you'll get excited about the new bodies of work they produce.

5. Don't Judge Yourself

As you get into a routine of making art, you'll find that you might become disgruntled with certain pieces. It can be especially difficult to finish a piece of art, if you're judging it before it's completed. If I get down about what I'm making, I have 2 choices:

A. Scrap it

B. Work through it

It's a shame how much paper I've wasted by tossing a piece before it's finished. It's also a shame that I don't work through the problem more often, since this usually brings the greatest relief. It's like playing sudoku - sometimes you have to leave it alone, let it breathe, come back, and rework it, in order to come to the end of it.

In all of this, don't give up! You CAN make art that's beautiful. Just as everyone is capable collecting skills like learning to cook or learning to drive, you can become an artist and enjoy this colorful, calming hobby.

Marni Manning - Artist

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