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No Compromise!

February 17, 2010

When it comes to our art practice, it’s easy to make excuses. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • It’s too expensive.
  • I don’t have room to store it.
  • No one would ever buy it.
  • I don’t have the right materials.
  • I wouldn’t know where to start.
  • I don’t know how to do it.

I remember an exchange I had with one of my professors in University. I was just starting to explore abstraction in painting and wanted to add some kind of linear element to my work. I really wanted to use oil sticks but didn’t have any, so I was going to use paint. My prof just looked at me and said, “if you want to use oil sticks, then use oil sticks!”


I’d been compromising my creativity, making excuses. I didn’t have oil sticks, I didn’t want to spend the money to get them, and mostly I was too lazy to do the two hour bus excursion to go get them.  I was willing to sacrifice my art for convenience.

That moment has stuck with me ever since.

You should never compromise your art practice for convenience. Obviously, we all need to work within boundaries that are practical for us, but that doesn’t mean always doing what is easiest.

The most common compromises seem to be about size, money, sales and skills.

Go Big

If you want to work big, work as big as you can! Don’t worry about storage or whether or not anyone will buy it. You don’t make art to store it, or even to sell it. You make art to make it, so make it the way you want. Making big art can be a very liberating experience, especially if you’ve never tried it before.

The Money Issue

If you can’t afford it, maybe take a look at your finances and try and find other areas to cut back. Or take a few weeks or months to save up what you need. Most art supplies are infrequent expenses anyways. Once you purchase a set of paints, for example, you’ll only need to replenish as you run out. The first expense is usually the biggest.

Selling Point

As for selling… make the art first, then worry about finding an audience. I am a firm believer that there is a market for everything; it’s just a matter of finding that market.


If you don’t know where to start, or don’t have the knowledge to do what you really want to do, my advice would be to jump right in! Take a course or a workshop, read a book or find some resources online. There is information everywhere that can help you learn new skills. Don’t let a lack of knowledge or skill limit your art. I’m a huge fan of trial and error. You’ll learn the most by playing around and making mistakes.

The bottom line? No compromise!

Do what you want to do, the way you want to do it. Don’t let yourself get away with making excuses. Your art practice will benefit and you might be surprised at your results!


From → Art General

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