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Do the words rules or systems make you cringe? Do you feel an inner call to rebel and talk about being called to your own artistic path, free from those restrictions?

Hi my name is Carrie and here on Artist Strong I help artists like you build your skill and develop your unique artist voice. Today I want to talk about how to help your growth as a creative without feeling boxed in.

As soon as artists hear the word, rules, or systems, I’ve heard countless arguments against these approaches. There is A LOT of resistance to the idea that some kind of rule or system may help someone’s art.

 Do the words rules or systems make you cringe? Do you feel an inner call to rebel and talk about being called to your own artistic path, free from those restrictions? Today I want to talk about how to help your growth as a creative without feeling boxed in. #mixedmediaart #drawingDrills #artiststrong #artlessons #artistmindset #creativeblock

The funny thing is there are countless stories of artists who were limited by their access to materials, disability, you name it, who built their skill and developed a unique voice because of those very limitations.

Jen Stark, for example, is a thriving paper artist who discovered her medium and voice after moving to France for school and looking for the cheapest art material she could find, which happened to be colored construction paper.

Here’s the thing. There is no wrong path to building your skill or finding voice. That isn’t the point of today’s conversation, what I’m hoping we can start to reflect on here is the question of how our mindset around rules and structure could, in fact, slow our creative growth and development. The resistance we can feel actually can hamper our success, unless we find a way to work with it.

That’s one reason I encourage students to have periods of reflection and assessment built into their artist practice. Again, I don’t like to tell you when you have to do it, because I want you to feel freedom to find a path that works for you as an individual.

And once we have those reflections about our work, well, that’s when we get to do something with it.

Let’s note here too: this next part doesn’t have to be a step-by-step methodical tick box.

In yoga practice teachers often encourage students to create an intention for the practice, an idea, or a physical focus to return to when their minds become distracted.

What if working with the reflections from your assessment allows you to create an intention before each artwork, or a group of artworks?

When someone posts in the free mini course Drawing Drills something like, “I want to be better at drawing people,” I congratulate them on their first step. But really, what does better mean?

Does it mean being realistic, hyperrealistic, working in pencil, charcoal or paint, getting better at anatomy, faces? There are so many paths we can take. And trying to do it all is an exercise in getting very little done. Of course, please go prove me wrong. I love examples to the contrary.

What I do know is people who focus and hone in, who create intention between assessments grow faster, and thus have more motivation and confidence to keep going even when they do reach those moments of plateau.

Breaking down the goals or hopes you have for both your skill or voice development can not only help you really identify what you want for your art, they can help you reach towards that growth more quickly and efficiently.

Let’s pause here a moment to thank today’s sponsor. This post from Artist Strong is brought to you by The Artist Strong Studio, our community of patrons who believe in and wish to support this community. You can become part of the Artist Strong Studio for a small monthly commitment as low as 1 dollar a month. To learn more visit https://www.patreon.com/ArtistStrong.


A special thank you to current patrons, I couldn’t do this work without your support.

Now it’s your turn: how can you use the reflection you’ve done on your art to step up your game? What’s a way to break things down into smaller plans of attack without making you feel trapped by the boundaries or rules you set for yourself? Let’s keep this conversation going in the comments below.

Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you here next time on Artist Strong.