As you probably already know, I draw birds every day—often several! What may surprise you, though, is that I am constantly at work on improving my skills and taking online classes to become a better artist.

During the month of April, I wanted to explore this aspect of life as an artist, to dig more deeply into the roles of personal work and practice in growing as an artist as well as to share how my own ways of practice are changing.

First, what do I mean by personal work?

Now that I have paid work to do (yay!), there is a real distinction between work that I’m doing for, well, work and work that I do for myself. The work I do for my own goals, be those professional or for fun, is what I am referring to as personal work.

In the beginning of my artistic journey, all my work was personal. I took dozens of online classes as well as in-person workshops to gain skills. Every day, I went into the studio and made art. And eventually, I found my artistic voice and produced my first series, created a body of work, and built my portfolio.

These accomplishments signaled several shifts:

  • From Play to Practice
  • From Hobby to Professional
  • From Unpaid to Paid

For many artists, all their work will be personal. There is no reason why anyone has to make shifts away from play, doing art as a hobby, and making art for fun with no pressure to make money. What I have found as a professional artist is that I jump back and forth between these because making art isn’t just my job—it’s also my primary creative outlet, my hobby, and how I recharge my batteries.

The shifts you make depend on your goals. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • How important is it to you to improve and grow in skill as artist?
  • What are your aspirations for your art practice?
  • Where do you think your art practice can take you? How far is that destination from where you are now?

This month on Patreon, I’ve shared how I use my personal practice to gain new skills. There are lots of ideas to help you discern your own path and take concrete actions to move toward your own aspirations as you undertake personal work. In addition, I’ve shared exclusive behind-the-scenes into two of the classes I just completed to show you exactly how I go about receiving instruction and applying what I’m learning so that I can improve and grow.

In the meantime, check out my video where I review one of the classes I took recently: Atmospheric Scenes in Procreate taught on Domestika by Ramona Wultschner.

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