Do the people closest to you Influence your Artistic Journey?

big puffy storm clouds over a sliver of copper colored landscape in a watercolor painting

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Do You Want to be an Artist?

When I first considered leaping into art full time, I didn’t have artist friends to consult. So, I cold-called and emailed several artists I’d heard about, introduced myself, and asked if I could buy them lunch and pepper them with questions related to making art as a livelihood.

All of the artists I called agreed to meet with me. One of them relayed that her journey started with no art experience, beyond some much-enjoyed watercolor classes. She didn’t have artist friends or family, and her job had nothing to do with art.  

Once she decided to pursue art, she earnestly sought a mentor, and friendships with experienced artists. She attended art-related events, exhibitions and painting workshops. Eventually, her life transformed to one of a successful, full time artist, with a social life made up exclusively of artist friends.

Do you think she would have reached her goals if she spent all her time with friends far removed from the art world?

Marinate in Your Art Heroes

Have you heard the saying; You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with? Think of it as a prompt to survey who influences your life in your immediate and most frequented social circle.

The notion is based on social science, statistics and historical evidence. If you want to be an artist, how many full time artists are in your core group of friends? If you dream of being a musician, how many amazing instrumentalists do you hang out with every week? Are the folks in your closest tribe lifting you up to be the best you can be, in the field you’re hiking towards?

Take an Artist’s Inventory

When I met with the artist who launched her career from a blank slate all those years ago, and she relayed her story of no-artists to all artists in her social sphere, I took a hard look at my own circle of friends.  I tried to identify who in my tribe had enough artist’s mojo to encourage, advise and help cultivate the seeds I was sewing, and I came up empty.  

I love my non-artsy friends, but I needed to expand my circle to find deeply seasoned support from folks moving knowledgeably through the art world. That small hour of reflection helped me chart a deliberate course towards new friendships.

I began by joining artist associations, taking workshops, volunteering at art events and actively pursuing wise counsel from creative people farther up the hill I wanted to climb. You can do this too.

Attending an art exhibit at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California

Dust your Sleeves with Pollen from the Right Garden

You can choose your influencers too. Gather artist friends for a sketching lunch in the park, or invite 4-6 artists to a museum or gallery show.

Participate in an Urban Sketch Crawl to meet artists in your region. Volunteer at an art exhibit fundraiser to get acquainted with other art lovers attending, exhibiting and volunteering.

The key is to step away from your screen, and over the threshold of home to spend face to face time with other artists, and do that regularly.

Exchange facebook and instagram handles and be in touch online too, but in order to be influenced in ways that make you stretch and grow and reach farther in your own artistic journey, seed your week with artists you like, admire, look up to, and feel a connection with, etc.

artist friends who influence you
Laura Wambsgans, Lorelle Miller, Nancy Eckels and me: we’ve been meeting every few months to discuss our art careers for nearly a decade.

Onward, Towards Artistic Influences

I hope your August is shaping up to be the perfect launchpad for your next creative project. What do you have in the works?

Thanks for your visit and I’ll see you in the next post –


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Art Quote

Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it…

Wilfred Arlan Peterson
make art more often
Need some tips to get back to your art supplies? Here’s a free mini course to help: click the watercolor

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7 thoughts on “Do the people closest to you Influence your Artistic Journey?”

  1. Christine Buelow

    These are really important thoughts. Being in a creative, artistic environment, stimulates your own artistic and creative juices. It fills you with inspiration and motivation. Thanks for reminding me to get out of my current average, and include a circle of friends who are artists. I need a circle of writers also.

    1. Hi Christine, I’m glad you found this post useful. Be sure to check the links in the text for more in-depth essays about the influences & power of social circles on your day to day life. It’s fascinating and empowering, especially when you decide to adjust your “ingredients” to suit your goals. I hear you on the circle of writers too. Good luck harvesting just the right mix of both to rocket-boost your productivity.

  2. I remember meeting all those ladies, probably at a Santa Clarita show or at art fairs several years ago. And I painted with Laura for a while. Good to see those smiling faces!

    1. Hi Kendra, Yes, you definitely met all those peeps, and you helped us put on a self-hosted art exhibit. That was fun (and a lot of work!) I hope all is well, and your adventures with watercolor are flourishing!

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