A collage of paintings from June 2012 by KatCanPaint

There is no secret to being an artist, so stop looking & start working.

 There is no secret to being an artist.

You can go to school, read every self-help book, follow every blog. (I know, I’ve tried.)  No short-cuts exist. You show up, you do the work, and you keep striving to make really great art.

I’ve had this painting “in progress” since January. Time to finish it!

I think I own more Seth Godin novels than Harry Potter ones, and I’ve followed Harry through all seven years of Hogwarts.  I read his blog, subscribe even, and I trust what he says because it makes sense.   Because I need to be reminded, every day, to make art.

I own The War of Art, The FireStarter Sessions, and The $100 Startup.  I watch Marie Forleo’s Q&A Tuesday *every* Tuesday. I’m entertained, enlightened, and inspired by the quality and straight forward advice these authors give.  This is my secret cheerleader & mentor squad. I keep them in my inbox and e-reader and I don’t just read what they have to say; I follow their advice.

I’ve watched Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on genius countless times.  If I need to be reminded about the beauty of showing up, I watch it again.

If you are searching for the secret to being an artist, you know all of this information.  The links have been facebooked and tweeted by people more articulate, popular, spiritual, intelligent, and successful than I.  The information is out there, it is entertaining and inspirational: but it doesn’t help if you don’t go out and make something.

A collage of paintings from June 2012 by KatCanPaint



If you are searching for a magic fix, or 5 step program… it doesn’t exist.  It looks more like:

  1. Work hard. Work hard. Work harder. Go to bed. Wake up.  Do it all again.
  2. The flow, the genius, your muse… will not show up if you don’t.  So, show up, everyday, prepared to work.
  3. Make a lot of work, even if you don’t feel like it.
  4. Work, even if it takes years for you to create the art you see in your mind.

This isn’t necessarily bad news, it just means you have to do the work. Thinking about your work, researching for your work, and doing the work are not the same.  In order to be an artist, you have to make art.  It sounds easy, it’s not.

Ira Glass says it better, and there is a lovely video to illustrate:

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

I need to watch this every day.  I need to be reminded of this every time I go to repaint the face on a painting that I have been working on since January.   There isn’t a magic trick, self help book, or bullet-ed list to get you there.  You show up, you do the work. Tedious, boring, lonely slog?  Keep working.  You’ll find the magic, the flow, the genius too.  Make your art and grab yourself a couple of cheerleaders, if you need ’em.

<3 Kat

That’s @Kat_McBride on twitter, if you’re saavy.