Fabianna Rodriguez’ terrific blog has this gem posted a few days ago that is perfect for Inspiration Wednesday. Visit her blog and read the whole post, but here is her list of strategies for energizing her art practice. These can be extended to a writing or performance practice – you know they can. Brava, Fabianna! A great new discovery in the blogosphere.
Here are a few tips for other artists around the practice of being a lifelong student in the arts:
1. Take art classes in field that interest you, and treat them as labs – places where you can experiment, open yourself up to new techniques, and learn from others. I let go of the idea that I will produce finished pieces, and instead, go crazy trying everythign out. I also time myself so that I don’t get attached to what I make.
2. High quality art classes are often in the range of $300-$800, so I set aside a budget every year to take workshops at least once a quarter. You can start small, and set aside the price of going out to eat, it’s not food for the stomach but food for your heart. Even if you don’t take a class, you can use the funds to pay for the time of a master teacher, or studio rental for 1 day. Of course, there are free classes too, but I am not going to focus on those in this blog, because I haven’t had great experiences with free workshops.
3. I recently realized how important it was for me to leave my home to take a class. If possible, you should leave and go to a place where you can treat it like a vacation. Take time off work to do your class.
4. Sign up for e-newsletters of places that offer classes so that you are in the loop around special offers. Often, the best classes fill up fast, so its important to stay updated on things in your area or your field of interest.
5. Read books. I hardly learn from books, but recently, I started reading about Chinese woodblock printing in preparation for a woodblock class I’m taking next week. I realized how incredibly valuable it is to prepare for workshops by reading up on the material. In fact some people can learn entirely from books.
6. Reach out to your masters now! If you know of someone you admire, reach out to them, ask them to mentor you in a particular area. Maybe you need help with color theory, or maybe with learning how to cut a linoblock. I recently reached out to one of my masters to ask him to help me hand print on Japanese paper. Whatever you do, do it now. I say this because, masters are not around for ever. One of my favorite teachers of all time, passed away a few years back, and I often wished I had spent more time with him.
7. Thank your masters. I always try to give my masters pieces of my work and to express my gratitude to them, because their lessons are real gifts to me.
8. Cross the sea to find your master. I have a dream of going to Japan to connect with masters of the Mokuhanga tradition, which is a Japanese style of printmaking. So every year, I apply to a fund that facilitates exchanges between Japanese and American artists. I’ve applied at least 5 times now, and have not gotten it. But I don’t give up, because it is my dream to learn this craft.
9. Be committed to your “schooling.” This is definitely what I’ve had the hardest time with. Usually, a few days before my scheduled class, I will realize I have to much work to do, so I sometimes consider cancelling my class. But thankfully, my mom reminds me to view this as an investment in myself, and to make sure to treat my learning as sacred time.
10. Investigate scholarships or fee waivers for your classes. Many of these art programs offer scholarships. Also, many cities around the country have funding for artists who want to take workshops (usually around $500). Investigate.
11. List your classes in your resume.Image: Self Portrait by Favianna Rodgriguez