The Number One Thing That's Helped Me Move Forward as an Artist

Laurel Greenfield

As an artist, I’m pretty clear on what inspires me: color, joy, nostalgic food memories, etc. A couple weeks ago I told you about how my gastronomy masters program at BU helped me realize just how much food memories meant to me and how I could capture them in my paintings. You can read that post here.

While my inspiration is strong and clear, something I had been taking for granted was my actual skill set as an artist. Learning to paint was so painful and frustrating that I more or less decided that I was done learning art technique. I felt like I went through enough the first time around. I knew my sense of color and design was strong so I just didn’t think I had more to learn, at least consciously.

But I also occasionally felt held back while I was painting. I wanted to add more depth to my work, but I didn’t know how. I wanted to increase the vibrancy of my colors, but I didn’t know how. I could tell that there was something keeping my work from being purchased at the prices I was asking, but I didn’t know how to figure out what it was. It was extremely frustrating, but I didn’t see any obvious solutions and just settled on the idea that my work was good enough to just keep going.

At the same time I was super focused on investing in my business skills. I took classes and started working with a coach and knew that educating myself was the key to moving my business forward. I figured if I could gain enough marketing knowledge, my painting challenges wouldn’t matter.

But what I was missing was that I needed to apply this same attitude toward educating myself to my paintings!

Over the last 3 years since I started working toward becoming a full time artist, education, mostly in the form of online courses, has been the number one thing that has helped me move forward and know what to do next.

I’ve spent every dollar of every tax refund I’ve received in the last 3 years on online courses and have taken the risk of relying on my credit card to get me into courses my tax refund couldn’t cover. The best part? Every course has moved me forward and I’ve made back the money I’ve spent multiple times over.

It’s so silly that it took me this long to realize that I need to be educating BOTH the artist and the businessperson in me!

As luck would have it, Amira Rahim, one of the artists who led the Portugal retreat I went on in January, launched her first in-depth abstract painting course Better Than Art School in April. I joined the class (with my 2018 tax refund!!) and jumped back into being a student again. I’m actually still in the class as I’m writing this. And I have to admit, my memories of how hard it is to learn to paint were correct! IT IS HARD! BUT, I finally feel like my technique and my style is moving forward again.

I realized though that I haven’t been sharing much of what I’m working on aside from a few work in progress photos here and there. I think it’s because I’ve been a little hesitant to share all of these paintings together because I’m worried that they “don’t make sense” together.

I’m in this weird transition period with my paintings where I’m learning new skills and techniques that I plan on weaving into my food-focused paintings but I’m not quite there yet. I’ve been working on abstract paintings that let me work on color, movement, and composition in ways I never have. I love them so much but I wasn’t sure how they fit with the rest of my work.

But I realized that it all boils down to color and joy and that these abstracts are just a different method of capturing joy and happiness and nostalgia in vibrant color, which is what I’ve always done!

So while I’m still in transition and getting where I want to go as a painter, here is where I’m at right now! This collection is a mix of abstracts, ice cream, and pastry displays, but it’s really a collection of joy and color and happy moments! And it is the physical representation of everything I’ve been learning! To not share them with you would be to leave you out of my artistic journey, which just doesn’t feel right at all! I cannot wait to see where my new skills take me and I cannot wait to keep sharing it all with you!

Which one of these new paintings is sparking your joy?!

Loving these new paintings so much you need to own one to bring more joy into your home?

CLICK HERE to purchase yours!


Loving these new paintings? CLICK HERE to purchase yours!