How to Be an Artist Without Picking Up a Paintbrush

how to be an artist

Are you an artist? If you don’t paint or do something recognisably arty, you might say, “Well no, I’m not an artist. And anyway I can’t draw.” {One of my favourite myths about what makes an artist. But I digress.}

But you are an artist. Even if you’ve never picked up a brush in your life, you’re creative to the core, just by being a human being. No effort required! Let me show you what I mean.

I’m primarily a painter, and I’ve noticed that some of my favourite painting techniques transfer beautifully into ways of living in the world that we can use whether we consider ourselves artists or not. See if any of these ring true for you…

Just begin

The only way to start a painting, and the only way to start anything at all!


I like to see the studio as my lab, where I can test things out and see what works for me and what doesn’t. Adopting this attitude in my life as a whole helps me remember to be light hearted and is much more forgiving than trying to always be perfect and do everything perfectly.

Zoom in and out

Sometimes I stand very close to the canvas so I can only see a section of it; other times I’ll step back to look at it from the other side of the room. There are times to see the big picture and times to pay attention to details; both are valid and both are necessary and useful.

Observe others

While I believe the best way for you will always be your way, sometimes seeing how others do things can help you to find it, if only by showing you how you don’t want to paint, or live! The point about observing others is that it presents more options to play with than we might discover alone, whether that’s how we want to paint or how we want to live our lives.

Turn it around

I turn the canvas to help me see what’s not working, what looks a little off. Turning situations around and approaching them from different angles allows us to gain a more holistic perspective on things.

Create balance

It’s a useful and effective practice to take colour around the canvas so the eye can travel and to create a pleasing visual balance. If you switch out ‘colour’ with ‘acceptance’ or ‘love’ for example, you can see how weaving them through all areas of your life can create a balance there too.

I bet you already do some of these things, whether you paint or not.

See, you are an artist. 😉

Have I missed any obvious ones? What do you do in the studio that transfers to and informs life situations?

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