How to be an artist: part 1

 

Ken Unsworth Five secular settings for sculpture as ritual and burial piece 1975. Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased 1976. © Ken Unsworth

Make yourself the artwork.

Nora Heysen Self portrait with smock 1928. Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased 1990. © Lou Klepac

Picture yourself as an artist. Believe it.

Ian Abdulla Swimming before school 1995. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Mollie Gowing Acquisition Fund for Contemporary Aboriginal Art 1996. © Estate of Ian W Abdulla. Licensed by Copyright Agency

Mine your own past.

William Yang Lunch Special at the Sandfire Roadhouse W.A. 1998, printed 2002. Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors’ Program 2003. © William Yang

Make anything your subject. Nothing is too humble.

Colin McCahon Teaching aids 2 (July) 1975. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Purchase 2014. © Estate of Colin McCahon, Courtesy of the Colin McCahon Research and Publication Trust

Be prepared to learn.

Tom Roberts Smike Streeton age 24 1891. Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased 1945

Make artists your friends.

Noel McKenna Untitled 2015–2016. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Dobell Biennial Acquisition Fund 2016. © Noel McKenna. Licensed by Copyright Agency

Focus on what you love.

Grace Crowley Sketch Club, 215A George St (Sketch Club: for painting of 1978, from sketches circa 1935) 1978. Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Grace Buckley 1982. © Reproduced with permission of Grace Crowley Estate

Join a sketch club. Make it social. Just do it.

Simryn Gill A small town at the turn of the century 1999–2000. Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased with funds provided by Barbara Flynn, William, Rory and Lachlan Grounds 2002. © Simryn Gill

Use what’s to hand.

Mary Abbott Grantley (head studies) circa 1948–50. Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Chris Roberts 2014. © Estate of Mary Abbott

Keep drawing. Over and over. Whenever you can.

Grace Cossington Smith Interior with wardrobe mirror 1955. Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased 1967. © Estate of Grace Cossington Smith

Find a room of your own.

Anne Zahalka The sunbather #2 1989, printed 1990. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1990. © Anne Zahalka. Licensed by Copyright Agency

Study the classics. Make them your own.

Michael Landy H.2.N.Y. Self-destroying work of art 2006. John Kaldor Family Collection. © Michael Landy. Courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery, London

When it’s just not working, destroy it.