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Studio Craft: Work Like A Professional Artist

Francis Davis Millet with studio assistants ca. 1900

Even artists who don't consider themselvesprofessionals can learn some of the habits offull-time pros. Adopting a professionalapproach when you're making art for funcan help you paint more often and get betterresults!

Schedule Studio Time: Making art is a lot likelearning a language: if you don't practice, you'llnever achieve fluency. Reserving studio timeeach week gives structure to your work andhelps maintain sharp skills.

Use high quality materials: Use the bestcolors, brushes, canvas and paper you canafford. Good quality materials make it easier toachieve the results you want and encourage youto work more. Lower-grade materials may havea cheaper per-unit price, but in the end they costmore because they don't go as far and, moreimportantly, don't handle as well or look as good.

Develop a critical eye: Learn to look at yourwork as though you're an outside observer.When you're having a hard time resolving apiece, put it away for a while. The next time youlook at it, you'll have a fresh eye and it'll beeasier to get the results you want.

Take presentation seriously: If a painting isworth framing, it's worth framing well. A goodframe can't improve a painting, but a bad framecan ruin a good one. Presentation materialsdon't have to be expensive to complement andenhance your art as long as you choose them ascarefully as you crafted your work.

Take good photographs:Keep a goodphotographic record of your work. It's easy toachieve great results with moderately pricedcameras or even cell phones.

Keep a sketchbook: An artist's sketchbook is aprivate place to experiment, play and practicewithout outside criticism. Keep yours with you allthe time, and fill it with the ideas that willbecome full-fledged artwork later.

Value your work:Right now you may thinkmaking art is more of a pleasant diversion than aserious vocation, but don't undervalue howmuch of yourself and your time is invested. Don'tthrow anything away- keep your finished art soyou can see how far you've come later. If yougive away your work for free, make sure it goesto a worthy cause or to someone you know willtreasure it.

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