Ep 67 Featured Image Podcast

How I Start My Art – Nicholas Wilton – Ep 67

February 1, 2023


There is a ton of pressure around starting. So much so that I thought it would be helpful to give you a window into how I think when I start. Join me as I walk you through the practical steps I take while starting a 5 by 7-foot painting. I’ll also dive into some creative roadblocks that can occur when starting and how to overcome them for a healthy and productive art practice.

Listen if you are interested in…

  • Eliminating worry and figuring it out as you go [2:47]
  • Getting paint onto the canvas [6:27]
  • Losing control and falling in love with the process of art-making [11:34]
  • The satisfying nature of painting and going on a journey with your art [20:21]

Not all who wander are lost

Starting a painting is hard. Not because it’s difficult to put paint on a canvas, but because of all the meaning we can ascribe to our marks. We put so much pressure on ourselves to make a perfect thing that a mark isn’t just a mark. It becomes a declaration about who we are as an artist instead of one choice on a journey of thousands. The way this manifested in my life is through planning. I used to try and figure out what I was making ahead of time by uploading a painting to my computer and playing around with it until I got something I liked for inspiration. I wasn’t trying to copy these per se, but I needed reassurance that the work was heading somewhere. Not just any destination, but one that I liked. However, I soon learned that even though the outcome was assured, art-making lost its luster when I knew where I was going. When we’re free to wander and do what we want, the likelihood of making more original and personal art is higher.

Just keep going

The greatest roadblocks to our art-making are limiting beliefs. Your mindset when entering your studio is just as important as the paint you put on the canvas. If you are constantly second-guessing whether or not your incomplete painting is good, chances are the final product won’t be. We’ve all seen overly edited paintings that lack confidence. I’ve even made them! It’s all a part of the journey. But I’ve learned that the longer you can postpone deciding whether or not the painting on your canvas is good, the better off you’ll be. Those thoughts don’t serve you or your work! Here’s the thing: A painting isn’t finished until it’s done. Deciding something is bad pre-maturely will likely influence the result. The best surprises happen in our art practice when we just keep going.

The practice of choosing

Art-making is a practice, and that practice is one of choosing. Becoming a better artist means learning how to make better choices. But the word “better” doesn’t necessarily mean more technical. It means more authentic choices. Choices that accurately reflect your inner voice and the journey you’re on as an artist and a person. When I create, I’m trying to set up a situation where I’m demonstrating my choices based on the ones that came before. I’m not thinking about anything except yes or no. When I do this, I end up creating art that relates to all the other kinds of art I make because there’s a pattern. There’s an inherent knowledge or tendency to choose similar kinds of things. Everyone chooses differently. That’s the beauty of art! But choosing better takes practice.

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Nicholas Wilton

Hi! I’m
Nicholas Wilton
the founder of Art2Life.

With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.

Join me and artists from all over the world in our Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group or learn more here about Art2Life.

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