The #1 Most Important Lesson I Ever Learned About Art — and It Might Shock You


Different interpretations of the same view

Great artists are created, not born. Art is not a magical fairy dust bestowed on just a few. It’s the product of discipline and commitment and showing up every day. With the exception of the .0001% of the population that truly is born with extraordinary savant-like skill, the rest of us, as the great Chuck Close said, just have to show up and get to work.


This is how you learn to be a great painter. It’s also how you learn to be a great anything, whether it be in sports, a musical instrument, cooking — anything you learn to master is the result of a lot of hours and hours of practice. A lifetime, in many cases. So being outcome-driven really isn’t the point. If I had to wait a lifetime to be satisfied with my work, the long journey might not be worth it. It’s a battle, everyday, but my commitment is to the process. It kind of has to be, don’t you think?

On his deathbed, at age 91, Picasso said, “… and I was finally starting to figure this painting thing out.” While Picasso was an exceptionally gifted artist from a very young age, he makes the very important point. We paint to teach ourselves how to paint. If we had it all figured out, we wouldn’t have to show up every morning to paint. And therein lies the joy. The joy of art is about the process. If I had to suffer through the making of every painting just to be pleased with something at the end I might be missing the point and the joy. Art, as is so often the case, is a metaphor for life: Be in the moment, and the rest takes care of itself.


Whether you are an art maker or an art appreciator, I hope these glimpses inside the process are helpful. The best part about blogging is hearing from you; as always, we love to hear from you in the comments. Keep the discussion going! Every day, you can find me on Facebook and Instagram, where I love hearing from you and communicating. Hope to see you there!


About Stephanie Schlatter Art

Stephanie Schlatter is an Artist who draws from the world for inspiration. While she calls Grand Rapids, Michigan, home she’s often off on new adventures. For more than a decade, her journeys have taken her across the globe. She has studied art both locally and abroad, including time in Mexico, where she decided to shift her focus from photography to painting. Stephanie's travels led her to found Absolutely Art: A Project for Change in 2006. Through this non-profit organization, she brings art instruction to the children of Ethiopia while supporting their education. Stephanie's work reflects an expression influenced by other cultures which resonates a variety of influences that have given her work direction.

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