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Hallmarks of an Artistic Practice

An artistic practice lets you be intimate with something you love: color, shape, sensation, gravity, vibration, rhythm, word, image, light, shadow, texture, scent...

Artistic Practice becomes a refuge—both for an individual and her community.

This is one of the astonishments of my life: given clear structure and a minimum of instruction, the most extraordinary, memorable, art will arise from non-professionals in unglamorous settings.

An artistic practice can be a private source of nourishment or it might unfold in such a way that it becomes relevant to a community. Either’s fine and the world is better off.

Here's my list of the hallmarks of a good artistic practice:

  1. You can do it no matter how you feel.

  2. It requires minimal expense and preparation.

  3. It allows for the free play of feelings. More importantly, it helps you to mix feelings - to combine opposites.

  4. It has a structure, a shapeliness: beginning, middle, and end. Time limits help.

  5. You’re your own teacher. You give yourself a small assignment at the beginning. As you go, you change your mind or stay the course.

  6. It teaches you about your style, temperament, and themes.

  7. It helps you to notice particulars. .

  8. It connects you to the spirit of your "materials." In other words, it helps you to feel the character - and will - of whatever it is you work with: wood, say, or clay. Paint or words or vibration or chords or gravity...

  9. It helps you to enjoy not knowing what you're doing.

  10. It has ground rules - not many, but, without them, all you've got is permission and that gets boring.

  11. One of the rules should address the role of outside opinion (praise, comparison, criticism, or advice) in your practice. It takes a lot of practice and a strong relationship to your muse before you are ready for someone else's assessment of your work.

  12. It's a pleasure, even if you sometimes feel resistant, and you will, which brings us back to #1.


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