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Hard work

Here's an excerpt from an interview with an artist: 

Q – Finally, do you have any last words of advice for beginner artists?

A – If you want someone to teach you how to paint – only sign up with a teacher whose work you love and admire…and who knows more than you do.

I live in rural New Hampshire and there aren’t a lot of teachers around here. So in order to learn to paint the way I wanted to, I spent two solid years copying the paintings of the Old Masters out of books. When I say two years – I mean it. I put in 40-60 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. I logged in some heavy-duty easel time.

My hairdresser told me that she needed to put in 1500 hours just to get a license to wash my hair. It is funny but I meet an awful lot of artists who aren’t willing to put in this kind of time but somehow expect a good result.

I think hard work over a long time counts more than talent, i.e., perspiration v. inspiration.

Being a full time professional artist is hard work – but I cannot think of any other work I’d rather do.


  • I know of a fairly large group of very good artist who hold that we don't start getting good unless and until we put in 10,000 hours.  Frankly, I feel that my "getting better" didn't begin happening until I passed my 10,000 hours.  I keep painting nowadays because every once in awhile, I sense that I'm making progress.
  • I think this is right. And it is something I did not understand when I began. Before discovering DMP I thought that if I had any talent I should be able to just squirt some paint on a pallet, pick up a brush and produce a masterpiece. No wonder I got discouraged with the results. Thank goodness I discovered DMP so that the "myth of talent" got dispelled.  I haven't put in anywhere near 10,000 hours yet but just by forcing myself (which isn't that hard) to go to my easel each day and put in five or six hours I find that I am improving. For example, I've learned how to see and mix colour so that I don't end up with mud on the canvas. Without putting in the time to develop skills we cannot expect to consistently (or even often) to get a good result. So I think what that artist said is absolutely correct. Thank you, some, for posting about it.
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