The #1 Thing Thriving Successful Artists Know

The #1 Thing Thriving Successful Artists Know

In today’s episode I’m sharing the four key areas that can motivate an artist to create and the four can definitely overlap. In fact artists who have a balance of all four tend to achieve the greatest success and balance in their lives.

What do thriving successful artists know that gives them an edge?

They know their painting why – how they define success for themselves as artists.

I see four key areas that can motivate an artist to create: pleasure, innovation, recognition, and profit. The four can definitely overlap. In fact artists who balance all four tend to achieve the greatest success and balance in their lives.

Most artists start here, creating from a place of enjoyment, fun, entertainment and pleasure. Many artists in this category describe themselves as hobbyists, but don’t let that fool you. Painting for pleasure doesn’t mean a lack of skill. Quite the contrary. Many of these artists are quite skilled and spend a great deal of their spare time in painting. Artists who paint for pleasure often work when the mood strikes and enjoy the relaxing, meditative effect of painting. The main challenges they face can range from the lack of their own creative work space to frustration with lack of skill or carving out dedicated time to create. Connecting with other artists for community can benefit their skills development, beliefs in their identity as artists, and pure pleasure in the act of painting.

Artists motivated by the desire to innovate value creative exploration and artistic excellence. Their painting practice is more directed towards developing their own unique approach and voice regardless of their work’s market viability. Many of these artists pursue opportunities to share their work in nonprofit venues like museums and residency programs. They frequently are not interested in selling their paintings, and are happy taking an outside job in order to be able to paint what they want.

For an artist who is motivated by recognition, their top priority is communicating and sharing their work with a raving audience. Awards and competitive exhibitions, particularly professional ones at the regional and national level, feed their creative energy. But most important is that feedback loop with their engaged audience. Success comes in the form of fame rather than profit.

And then there are the artists who feel most aligned to their motivation when they’re able to achieve financial stability from the sale of work they love. For them, alignment happens when they focus on creating paintings that will appeal to their target audience. They are creative not only in their artwork, but in getting it in front of potential buyers and facilitating sales. Those sales may come from art fairs or festivals, gallery representation, or online marketplaces.

Ultimately you are the only person who gets to define what success means to you. Remember that achieving success in any of these four paths takes time and effort. But it’s definitely your time to thrive.

I’d love to have you join me for my upcoming 3-day Live Video Training Series, “The Rise of the Thriving Artist” starting Wednesday June 3 at 4pm Eastern.

Just click here to register.



Under Summer Clouds

Under Summer Clouds

“Under Summer Clouds”, oil, 4 x 6”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

Under Summer Clouds

4 x 6″”

Oil on panel

It’s ironic that under summer storm clouds colors look more intense without the sun to bleach them out. The humidity doesn’t cloud the atmosphere as much either so the greens of the trees and new growth of cotton are vivid and rich.

$235 (unframed) + $10 shipping


Are You Ignoring An Important Voice?

Are You Ignoring An Important Voice?

Are you listening to your own creative voice?

I’ve been talking over the last several episodes about why painting matters, why your painting matters, why your art matters, whatever your art form might be. (Check out Reclaiming Your Inner Game as an Artist and Finding Inspiration in the Ordinary)

It doesn’t have to be painting. It could be cooking. It could be coding. It could be writing. It could be making music. It could be gardening. It could be almost any form of creative expression.

But if you’re not listening to your own creative voice, then you’re holding back on the rest of the world because the truth is you have a unique voice that’s waiting on you to unlock it, and if you’re not in complete alignment with what your voice is, it’s going to be really hard to be satisfied with where you are.

Being in alignment with your own creativity is crucial for living a happy, healthy, productive life. It’s important. For becoming resilient. Meaning being flexible in times that are challenging. Being able to go with the flow, being resilient, so you have to exercise that creative muscle. Every last person on earth is born creative.

It is not something like your guardian angel comes down and taps you on the head and voila, now you’re going to be a great artist. That’s just not how it works. It works by working. You know, a lot of us set fantastic goals at the beginning of the year. January rolls around in December actually rolls around and we start making grand plans about what the next year is going to be all about.
We’re going to lose 20 pounds. We’re going to make $20,000 more. We’re going to have dinner with our friends three times a week, maybe on the other side of Rona. We’re going to do all kinds of things that are going to make us different people. And we stick to that for about 10 minutes into the next year.

Maybe a little longer than that. But most of us let go of those things really fast. And one of the reasons that happens is lack of alignment that we don’t stop to chat to see whether it’s something we really want. So what do I mean by alignment? I mean that alignment, what you say you want. It’s something you truly do want.

It is something that is in alignment with your purpose, with where you want to go. When you are not on purpose, when you’re not in alignment, it will feel uncomfortable. It will feel uneasy. You know, people who have repressed their creativity, people who’ve shut the door on whatever their creative dream was.

Still have a deep hunger to create. It’s just that they’ve pushed it back somewhere. That may be one of y’all. It’s going to keep talking to you. That’s that voice I was talking about at the beginning. It’s going to keep whispering in your ear. It’s going to keep waking you up in the middle of the night.

It’s going to keep making you feel dissatisfied with the the job that is boring. The things that people have told you you should want to do. Don’t listen to those voices that tell you that your skills aren’t good enough, that your art doesn’t have any value, because that’s not true. Skill levels can be developed, valuables up over time, but if you shut the door on your creativity, if you shut down listening to that voice.

It’ll have a profound impact on your life and it won’t be a good one. Creativity feeds your soul. Creativity feeds your ability to handle every day life, and it doesn’t have to be going to paint. Mona Lisa doing something creative every day, exercises that creative muscle and it builds on itself. So that the next time you go to do it, it gets easier and then it gets easier and then it gets easier.
It’s just like starting a new exercise routine. It can be painful at first and you don’t want to, but you got to push through that and go do it. Because when you push through it and go do it, it gets a little bit easier every day. There’s this myth out there that if you’re a creative, it’s easy to go create, and all of us who are creative are exercising our creativity because we’re all creative.
Those stuff is to exercise it on a regular basis. No, you’re going to hit sticky points at times. You’re going to hit that messy middle. Which is where every artwork goes through. Every creative project goes through that stage where it looks like something the cat threw up in the corner. It’s by cat still behind me over there.

That’s just the way that it works. That’s part of the process. You can’t avoid that. It’s part of life. It’s part of the creative life, but leaving creativity out. That’s something that nobody should be doing. So figure out how you can answer that call. Yeah. Listen to that voice and begin to exercise that creativity just a little bit every day.

Find some creative ways. It’s not about going out and decorating your house so that it looks like a show place. That’s misplaced creativity. Unless it’s what you really want to do, then it’s fantastic. But to live a creative life, you get to decide what that means. You get to define that, not other people.

So spend some time and just a little bit of reflection. What is it that’s calling to you? What is it that. Needs to be expressed because the more you express yourself, the more you exercise your creativity, the more resilient you are going to be and the happier you’re going to be as a human being. So hope that’s been helpful.

I think it makes a big difference when you can tap into your creativity. Think about ways that you can begin to exercise that creative juice. It really will flow more often the more that you use it.

So remember, I want y’all out there looking for the beautiful in the ordinary search for the extraordinary and the ordinary. Then capture it in some way. If you’re not feeling particularly creative as a painter, get your cam or out. Start that way. Write about it. Make a note about it, but exercise that creative bone.

Find some small ways to just get started and share those over in the ART+WORK+LIVING Facebook group. I would love to hear how y’all are exercising your creative muscles.

Paint on!

Summer, Morning Storm

Summer, Morning Storm

“Summer, Morning Storm”, oil, 7 x 5”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

Summer Morning Storm

5 x 7″

Oil on panel

A sudden heavy burst of rain moves across the summer hay fields…

$325.00 (unframed) + $15.00 shipping


Reclaiming Your Inner Game as an Artist

Reclaiming Your Inner Game as an Artist

A strong creative mindset is central for any creative to thrive. But challenging times can get in the way of focus and shatter our mindset, our inner game.

That inner game is your inner studio space, a mental/emotional one. Lots of people get all hung up on the outer one, the physical studio space. Don’t let that get in your way! The mental/emotional space is so much more important.

How to cultivate that inner space no matter what’s going on in the world? In today’s video I go over 7 steps you can take to reclaim your inner game of painting.

Then let me know in the comments what’s helping you move forward in your painting. And what’s holding you back.