10 quick tips to improve your art

Want to improve your art this year? Course you do. 😁

Yes, there are lots of obvious ways to do that – take a class, practice a lot, learn a new skill or technique. You know what to do.

But sometimes that’s a bit vague and abstract, and easy to keep pushing into the future, so let’s get specific with things you can do today!

Here are some quick tips to improve your art that can have rich results.

Some are practical, some are more mindset based.

A couple might be quite annoying. 😉

Pick whatever feels most interesting and doable, and start there!

{And if you do them all, get ready to watch your art grow beautifully!}

1. Pay attention to composition

A weak composition can feel jarring to the viewer and detract from an otherwise fabulous artwork.

While I don’t recommend trying to force a painting to fit into a certain type of composition, it’s good to keep ‘what works’ in mind to help your painting be its strongest self. 😊

For more on composition, read this post, and then this post.

2. Use a viewfinder

A viewfinder is easy to make from a scrap of paper, and can be useful for checking out all the areas of your painting and making sure it works together.

When each area works and the whole thing works, you’re onto a winner. 😊

For more ways to use a viewfinder, read this post

3. Push your paintings further

Yes you’re going to lose some of them.

Yes you may wish you’d stopped sooner.

But I see more paintings that are undercooked than overcooked, and it can mean the difference between a painting that reveals a lack of experience in the artist, and a more nuanced level of understanding and skill.

Richer, more satisfying work – both to create and to view.

For a real life example of pushing a painting successfully, read this post

4. Be willing to take more risks

This is built into the fabric of being an artist.

If you’re risk averse it’s going to be harder to develop your work and self expression.

And the studio is a great place to practice, because at the end of the day, it’s only canvas, or paper, or some paint. No lasting repercussions!

For more about risk taking, read this post

5. Soak up other people’s art

An afternoon spent in a gallery or museum is food for the soul, and the inspiration. 

Don’t confuse this with scrolling through Instagram wishing you made art like so and so though! Because sometimes the better advice is…

6. Don’t look at other people’s art!

I know, so annoying. 😉 But what is art {and life} if not full of contradictions!

Part of being an artist is knowing yourself, and knowing yourself means you know when you’re in the frame of mind to take the work of others as inspiration, and when you’re going to use it as a stick to beat yourself with.

For more about not letting that happen, read this post

7. Let your work go

Whether that means giving it, selling it, donating it, or otherwise not keeping it, releasing your art stops that backed up, stagnant feeling of a studio full of old work, and – crucially – allows both physical and energetic space for you to create more.

More creating = more improvement.

{And potentially more sales, if you’re into that.}

For more on letting your art go, read this post

8. Take a course or class and go all in

We’ve all purchased an online course or workshop and not finished it, or fully explored it, or let it slide half way through.

ROI is a real thing, and not just financially.

Yes you want to get your money’s worth, but you get to decide what that actually means for you.

If you’re going to get the absolute most out of a time and/or financial investment, {and not feel guilty about not doing that later} I highly recommend choosing to commit fully to whatever you do decide to invest in.

Decide before you begin that you’re going to engage wholeheartedly – whether that means working your way through all the lessons in your own time, participating in the group if there is one, learning as much as you can and applying it to your own work, making the most of any live aspects, asking every question you have, or all of the above!

The more you put in, the more you’ll improve your art, and the more you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.

That’s an ROI!

Looking for a source of discovery, development, and camaraderie you can go all in on this year? Check out the Happy Artist Studio!

9. Try working in collections or series

This will depend on your type of art, your process and your natural inclinations, but I and other artists I know who work in collections find it develops the work more quickly and cohesively.

There are so many reasons to work in multiples!

If you want to learn how to create a collection, read this post

And if you want guidance in creating collections at an affordable price, check out the Painted Postcards workshop.

10. Understand the mechanics of what makes a painting ‘work’

There’s a lot to include in a painting that works – values, composition, colour palette, mark making, shape, visual cohesiveness.

It takes time and devotion to grow your understanding of all these moving parts and make them work together to create a beautiful whole.

We don’t become artists because we want the easy life. 🤣

If you’d like some concrete actions to take to understand how to make your paintings ‘work’, read this post.

What would you add to this list? And what one thing will you be taking into the studio on your next visit? Share your thoughts in the comments!


The Happy Artist Studio - click here to find out more and join us!And if you’re looking for more support, more depth of understanding, and more development of your own unique self expression through art this year, come and join us in the Happy Artist Studio!

With a library of art courses, a full program on process and mindset, monthly topics and Q&A videos, and a cosy supportive community, this is something that’ll give you a very healthy ROI when you dive in! You can start with just one month and see how you go. Looking forward to seeing you on the inside!

“A Wednesday win for me : it may seem small in reality but it feels BIG for me! I’ve started working through the first couple of lessons in the Mindset module and already feel I’ve made a good decision by joining the Happy Artist Studio. I’ve felt confused for a while on my artist journey and the questions that are arising are helping me to drill down and begin examining my artist self.”