What’s a Good Artist?

Warning: preg_replace(): Unknown modifier 'd' in /home2/vjmaheu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/class.photon.php on line 331

What does it take to be an artist?

Well, it takes a desire to create art, and the initiative to act on that desire.

If you’ve ever drawn a picture, molded clay into a form you’ve imagined, glued paper scraps into a collage, or in some other way have designed and assembled a creative work, then you ARE an artist.

What does it take to be a good artist?

Some would say it requires a Bachelors or a Master’s degree in art, and yet one of the world’s most well-known and best-loved artist, Van Gogh, attended several different art schools with sporadic attendance, and didn’t actually graduate from any of them.  He also disagreed with much of what he was taught.  In spite of that, he produced a great number of treasured, beautiful works such as the two below.

“Starry Night Over the Rhone” by Vincent van Gogh – Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.



VanGogh-starry night
Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Grandma Moses never went to Art School at all.

1918 fireboard byGrandmaMoses
By Grandma Moses [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 In addition, there are, or have been many other accomplished artists with all levels of art education, from none at all, to those holding several degrees in different disciplines of art.  So, it would seem that educational level is not a valid indicator of what makes a good artist.

To me, it stands to reason that a good artist is an artist who creates good art.

So What is good art?  Answering that question, is of course,  impossible.  There are as many definitions of what is “good” art as there are people to look at art. Everyone has their own idea of what constitutes good art, from Jackson Pollock’s seemingly random spatters of paint, to Picasso’s distorted-looking portraits, all the way to pencil drawings so realistic they can be mistaken for a black and white photograph.  Such as the works in the video below, there are many different kinds of art, all “good” in their own way.



In my opinion, the best way to decide if you are a good artist,  is to ask if your art is something that brings you satisfaction?  Not just in the creation of it, but in the finished product as well.  Do you look at what you’ve created and feel pleasure, or do you feel nothing but frustration?  Now, I don’t mean that when you look at your work you should see no problems, or see no room for improvement, but overall, are you pleased with your work even though you may still see some problems or areas you need to improve in?  If so, that is as accurate a definition of good art as any I can think of, so if you’ve created even one piece of art that meets that criteria, you are a good artist!

In that sense,  I too can call myself a good artist.  There are many of my works that bring me pleasure when I view them.  However, not all of them do.

Those who have followed my blog for some time are aware of how dissatisfied I often am with the skies in my paintings, and how even with the few that I am happy with, it was usually a huge struggle and challenge to get them to that point.  Any sky with more than a tiny wispy cloud in it is the bane of my existence as an artist.  The idea of plain blue skies in every painting also doesn’t really appeal to me.

So, I’ve decided to tackle that problem the way I do every challenge I face as an artist.  I will practice, and practice, and practice some more.  I will look at the work of those I feel have mastered that element, and I will try to learn how they did it, I may even reproduce it (though not to claim as my own, just for practice).

I will persist with this practice until I look at the sky in front of me, or at a photo I’ve taken of the sky, or even just imagine the sky I want, and render it in a painting to my satisfaction without hours of struggle and repainting.

In order to do that, I’ve decided that once a week, I will paint a practice sky, it will usually be small, on paper, possibly as small as an index card.  One a week, until I no longer feel that a sky is an insurmountable challenge to me.

No matter what day I actually do the painting, I will post it on Sunday, and call it “Sunday Skies”. I will begin this feature on Sunday, January 25th.


Thank you for reading! If you liked what you see, please consider following this blog by entering your email address at the bottom of the page,  or follow me on Google+.   See the right hand column to follow in any of these ways! I welcome your suggestions on how to make this blog more interesting to you!

Fine Art America is the place to go for unsigned Prints of all my Paintings.


My Etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals that I haven’t added to this site yet, I sell a few select prints there also, and there you can choose if you’d like me to  sign them before shipping!  Eventually I’ll move all of my fine art products to this page, and leave only crafts on Etsy, but for now my art is in both places.

8 Responses to What’s a Good Artist?

  1. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think there’s an artist in all of us, but for those who enjoy creating art, if you are pleased with what you created, that’s what matters most.

  2. I chuckled when I read the title of this post that I needed to read and comment on for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. My immediate response was, “You won’t see my picture on that page!” LOL.

    I was surprised to see that I recognized several of the pictures in the post though!

    Keep working. I agree, too, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve made some scrapbook pages that I thought were amazing and accomplished exactly what I wanted while others did not feel that way. 🙂

    • Thank you for your feedback, and yes, scrapbook pages can count as art, they are a form of collage! Photography can count as art too! So if you’ve taken a photo that brings you pleasure, or created a scrapbook that brings you pleasure, you are a “good artist” by my definition!

  3. Great article..! Self taught can be super effective.

  4. Thank you for describing what it takes to be a good artist. This month, as I have painted nearly every day, I feel that I have grown as an artist and I do feel good about it. I like the process and I am enjoying the finished product as well. It has been fun and time consuming but I am happy that I chose this project, especially in the frozen winter.

    • Oh yes Alice, creating daily causes an artist to grow like nothing else will, I am really trying to do that myself, even though some days I may not have time for a while painting, I try to at least do a sketch. There are days when it doesn’t happen, but I really try.