5 Intentions to Improve Your Art Practice

5 Intentions to Improve Your Art Practice

5 Intentions to Improve Your Art Practice

  • On January 21, 2016

5 Intentions to Improve Your Art Practice

By Melanie Bindon, Art Gym Denver

It’s that time of year when we reflect on how we spend our time, consider what we could have done differently and determine where we want to be next year. Often, this process results in static resolutions instead of dynamic intentions.

We resolve to…

  • update our websites
  • organize our making-spaces
  • market our artwork better

In each of these cases, there is a past problem we want to fix going forward.

  • we neglected our website so it needs to be updated
  • our space is a mess and in need of organization
  • our artwork is sitting in our closet instead of seen by potential clients


Instead, what if we reframed our mindset and focused on the future, not the past?

We intend to…

  • support our artistic passions by spending time with them
  • create supportive, healthy, and nurturing surroundings for making work
  • strengthen our connections to viewers, collectors, and art-appreciators

Setting thoughtful intentions can help us remain present, foster gratitude, and create healthy habits for our art practice and life.


Consider these guidelines to make dynamic intentions:


Presentation board that says Goal Setting, S, Specific, M, Measurable, A, Attainable, R, Relevant, T, Time-Bound1. Set SMART Goals

What is the main driving force behind your artwork? Are you trying to make a living as an artist or simply see life in a new way? How will this guide your habits, practice, and intentions?

Once you know the why, you can begin building a bridge between where you are now and where you’d like to be. Be ambitious, but set pragmatic goals based on your current level of capability.

To make goals more attainable, use the SMART mnemonic. For example, instead of aiming to “make more art,” consider the SMART goal “to have filled a sketchbook every 4 months.”

Write down the personal goals you set and keep it somewhere easily referenced.


2. Work Hard

Our work is only as good as our habits to practice. Without diligence even carefully considered intentions pass by unrealized.

In the words of Aesop Rock, “you can dream a little dream or you can live a little dream. I’d rather live it, ‘cuz dreamers always chase but never get it.

Don’t forget that art requires work without distraction or wandering thoughts. Try to Find Uninterrupted Creative Time, then relax the mind and let the work flow through you.

Silhouette of four people standing in front of a sunset

3. Surround Yourself With Greatness

Tony Robbins, a motivational speaker, says “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

What’s your current environment like? Are you surrounded by people who inspire you? If you’re committed to getting better, it’s imperative to surround yourself with people who challenge you and build you up.

If you are currently disconnected, this might sound impossible. Begin with the intention to surround yourself with greatness and clarify what kind of people can help you achieve your wildest dreams.


4. Seek Criticism

Honest feedback provides direction for improvement. However, it can be difficult to find valuable critique if you aren’t actively seeking it out.

Ask other artists or inspirational people sincere questions that are specific to your work. More often than not, others want to help and may be able to see something we cannot after hours staring at the same piece. Critique is a delicate thing though, make sure you are familiar with how to offer and receive constructive critique.

A person in a yellow rain jacket sitting on a cliff overlooking a road

5. Evaluate Progress

It’s important to check back in along the journey to see if you’re living up to your desires. Are you still on track to be where you want to be?

What things impeded your progress or pushed you further than you thought possible? Be as objective as possible while evaluating and keep in mind we are often our own worst critics.

Remember that each time we fail to meet a standard is an excellent learning opportunity. Give yourself permission to not only make mistakes but to embrace them by failing upward.

While this process guides our intentions, remember to be kind to yourself through the ongoing journey towards goals that constantly move as we do. There will always be stumbling blocks and deviations so it’s most important to be present in the moment and appreciate where we are now.



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“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.””

-William Faulkner