Use this to improve your Art

Use this to improve your Art

– Hey everyone, it’s
Nicholas Wilton at Art2Life and I wanna talk about kind of a hack for for keeping your art going
in a certain direction and turning out how you
want it to turn out. And a thing I like to think about a lot is thinking about it in
terms of the feeling, not the thing. And that’s what I write in my sketchbook. It’s the feeling not the thing, meaning that it’s not
about what it actually kind of really looks like. It’s the feeling that that thing that looks like that gives you. And what’s so great about this, and I learned this doing
illustration actually, is that we’re always
given literal parameters around like, oh this is the thing, it has to be like this. Or I think of my art and
I always paint seagulls and so it has to look a certain way. It’s very limiting when we
think literally like that. When I was an illustrator, I
was always given assignments and it was challenging
cause they would say, “Well, this is our company “make an illustration show the corn, “and then the corn is
brown and make it brown.” It was really a bummer,
because I wanted to, you know I wanted more, have more freedom to interpret it. And one of the things that I said a lot to people that were trying to control me is like, “Well, before we get into you telling me “exactly what you me to paint, “tell me the feeling you wanna give me, “you want the viewer to see. “Like, what’s the
feeling of this angle or, “What’s the feeling of your company?” And it was cool because then they had to leave the real world and say well, “You know, we’re a young
company and we wanna feel- “We create opportunity for people, “So we wanna give people
the feeling of hope, “that’s what we want.” And then I could argue with them and say, “Well actually, showing
a picture of a you know, “a chef in a hat with
a certain kind of food “isn’t the way to do that.” Does that make sense? So the illustration where
I really learnt this on, I wanna share it with you
cause I was cleaning up and I found this. This is the artwork I made
for The Four Agreements. I made it a long time ago. And the reason I took this project was because the publisher
had hired an illustrator and had no more time or money, and I loved these opportunities because I knew that if they weren’t gonna pay me very much, I would have total freedom to interpret it the way I wanted. She had no choice at this point. So I took these jobs a lot because I knew that the art I made when
I wasn’t constrained, when I could make something that just had to feel a certain way, it was always better. And so she didn’t have- there wasn’t a lot of
art direction with this, but you know The Four Agreements is a Buddhist text, it’s you know, these ideas about self-transformation. Has nothing to do with
flower arrangements, but there’s four of them and it’s about- there’s a certain feeling to the book. And if you’ve read it you know, and I did. And this was the answer to that and then this became really
the signature of the book and went on to other things
and became hugely popular. Oprah picked the book
up, and it went crazy. And it really convinced me that making art based on the feeling is much more freeing to do it that way. So a hack, even now
when I think about this, if you can start thinking about- forget about where your
art is and we’re at like, what it even looks like now, think about, get in touch with what you want it to feel like. Even write it down and
then that doesn’t limit you in any way, shape, or form
when you’re making it. So you can have that in your mind and you can run a check against that when you’re halfway
through your paintings say, “Is this the feeling? “Is this actually like- “Wait a second, I got all seduced “cause I was painting this seagull “and I can do it really well, “but that’s not the feeling I wanna have, “I wanna have the feeling of
the open air, or whatever.” whatever it is. So- and by the way this hack
works in everything, we’re not just talking about art, we’re talking about life. Things that don’t feel right, if you pay attention to
what things you like, what feels right for you, and you’re walking around knowing that, then when things come into your world, you can determine whether they fit or not by how they feel. So just think it’s a really, it’s a fantastic way to, not art direct your work, but to just guide it. And it’s- basically what you’re doing, the feeling part of you
is the soul part of you, and that’s what makes
the really powerful art. So substitute soul for feeling and that’s why we wanna get your work, all of our work to feel
like the inside of us more and more and more. So- if you can actually write this down on, in your sketchbook or whatever, try to get that down and
start thinking about that. What I love about this is when you do it, sometimes you look at your work that you’ve been making
for three or four years and then you look at what
you want it to feel like and there’s a disconnect and it’s like, wow, that’s so powerful to realize and start moving your
work towards what you want it to feel like. Anyway- so I would love to hear
your comments on this. I think it’s a really great way to keep track of your
work when you’re doing it. I’d love to hear your
feedback and ideas on it. And I thought a really
cool thing would be if we all tried to like write down our four to eight word
tagline of what we’re doing. You know, just a really short sentence and post it in the comments. Cause when you put it out
there and people see it and they respond to it,
it kinda makes it real. And it’s hard to do, but so gratifying when you kinda get it. And again, I’ve got another- (laughing) this is all from cleaning up. This is what happens when
you clean up your studio. I have another giveaway
for the best user tagline. This is The Four Agreements Collection. It’s three of the books. Actually, I illustrated all of it. All of it. So. this’ll be cool. So next week I will
announce who gets that. But that’ll be fun so go
ahead and leave some comments and thanks a lot for being here. Okay.


  • Valeri Johnson says:

    You are so inspirational and wise. I wish I had discovered your videos years ago. Here’s to going forward with new knowledge to better paintings!

  • rita zita says:

    If I understand what you were expressing, I got that you want us to become aware of the FEELING we hope to ultimately create with the piece. As a painter I often am minutely aware of a strong desire to make my strokes express the certain EMOTION (rather than focusing on the exact line or shape or color)– I am feeling in that exact moment–instead of an aware of the totality of my direction. I describe that dynamic as Surfing my Mojo. Such a Rush!!

  • Patricia says:

    Thank you. This is a breakthrough for me. This is how I can instantly turn off my analytical/art principles/Crit brain and refocus on my self-expression by simply asking if the work has the Feeling I want to express. Too often I have found myself focusing on technique which can lead me in the wrong direction. I'm working on breaking that self-limiting habit. So simple. So impactful.

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