Quantity not Quality

Artists periodically ask me what they can do to get started drawing, and also what they can do to improve the quality of their work.  My answer is always the same: find a place (studio, class, group) where you can draw from observation on a frequent and regular basis.  Do, and do a lot.  

This passage perfectly illustrates why artmaking, of any sort, should be approached with quantity in mind.

“The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups.  All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.  His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weight the work of the ‘quantity’ group: fifty pounds of pots rated an ‘A,’ forty pounds a ‘B,’ and so on.  Those being graded on ‘quality,’ however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an ‘A.’  Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.  It seems that while the ‘quantity’ group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the ‘quality’ group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”

From Art and Fear: Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

by David Bayles and Ted Orland

i love how fans act like there can be no in-between for artists: either you must have had everything planned 100% from the beginning and never deviated at all from that ~master plan~ or else you must have planned 0% of anything because clearly planning nothing is the way an entire animated production can get made

did it ever occur to people that, oh gee, idk…shit could be somewhere in the middle? that in fact a perfect balance in art-making between planning and letting your story lead you forward in unexpected directions you never originally imagined is the key to successful storytelling? crazy thoughts, huh…


Gianni Verna is a woodcut artist after my own heart. Mr. Verna and I connected after he sent me a message through my website. I was blown away by the quality of his prints. There is a grittiness in Mr. Verna’s landscape work I greatly admire and the balance of black and white is masterfully done. We were able to have a conversation, share work, and become acquaintances. It feels great to bridge a language gap and nerd out on printmaking. Ben fatto sig Verna!

Day 32/365: Pink, Blue & Yellow Laredo Sunrise, Oil on Wood, 5x7", $50

Quickie little landscape…so refreshing.
#dailypainting #oilpainting #oilonwood #texas #tx #texasmorning #texaslandscape #texassunrise #art #artist #artaday #artlife #artwork #artstudio #artforsale #makeart2015 #make #create #laredo #laredoartist #prettypalms #flynncrafthouse #studio #artmaking

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Robin Smith-Peck on creating an environment for art making and what she learned from helping build SNAP (Society of Northern Alberta Print-Artists)

Keep the space equipped for possibilities but rugged enough to avoid inhibitions. Young artists have been generally trained by mom not to mess up the house; and we know that sometimes to get to the image you have to mess up the house.

  • eat together
  • make some art
  • drink together
  • make some art
  • argue
  • make some art
  • be goofy
  • make some art
  • Work with artists who make art different from yours.
  • If you don’t know any, go find some and invite them to the studio.
  • Teach a little but not too much ‘cause then you’re a school and not a studio.
  • Write about each other’s work… it helps.
  • And, when you’ve made a bunch of art that you feel strongly about, show it!
  • Show it in galleries, libraries, or abandoned buildings or on the street…
  • Your commitment will generate a buzz. The buzz always attracts attention.
  • Then make some more art.