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Ars Gratia Artis … Art for Art’s Sake!

Updated: May 3, 2020

Miscellaneous musings from Todd Sentell on the artistic process, philosophy and advice...

· You learn something new with every canvas. Every single one.

· All colors go together. Some just go together a whole lot better than others.

· Art is the deliberate attempt by someone to make something he feels is beautiful. That’s all art is. You’re not required to like it … to like it at all … but respect the time and effort the artist took to try to convince you otherwise.

· If black ain’t a color … what is it?

· Imagine a world without art. Pretty sterile and un-fun, ain’t it. Imagine a world with too much art. The thought makes you feel good, doesn’t it.

· So you love an artist’s art. Thank you ... it really is deeply appreciated, but you have to love one other thing, too, maybe even more. And that’s the price of the piece you love.

· Artists get your attention by using million year old tricks. Bright colors. Movement. Human faces and things that sort of look like human faces and body parts that look deformed. TV advertisers do the same thing except they can use sound, too.

· Just because you can’t draw real good doesn’t mean you’re not an artist. There are a whole bunch of other ways to see if you’re an artist.

· The moment you sell your first piece of art to someone who’s not a friend or a family member is quite a wonderful moment.

· The piece you know in your heart is your finest piece and the one you cherish the most will be the first one you sell.

· Hardly anybody ever asks how you made the art, but the person who does ask you how you made it wants to know every little detail. Fine with me. It’s usually the beginning of a fun and fascinating conversation with your new best friend.

· If you love a piece so much that you might not want to sell it … then make another one just like it. I’ll bet the second one is even better than the first. Now you’re in a real fix, aren’t you.

· It’s okay to have a bunch of favorite colors. Having just one is a little creepy.

· When you start a piece you’ll know you’re heading in the right direction within about twenty seconds.

· You don’t need training, a certificate, a license, a college degree, permission, or anything else to become an artist. You just need to be real brave.

· Just like in writing, you’re born with the ability to paint funny. That’s just the way it goes. It’s a natural gift. In art, if you can paint something that makes people laugh the instant they see it then you’ve achieved something pretty incredible ... and you’ve had that potential since birth.

· Please yourself first.

· If you’re thin-skinned, then do everything you possibly can to make great art ... that people begin to really like ... which builds your confidence and thickens your skin.

· Have you ever looked at a piece of art and instantly thought, What in God’s name was he thinking while he was making it?

· You’re darn right you paint your ceilings a color. It’s cool and sophisticated. Like I said ... be brave. You’re an artist.

· When customers and patrons ask for your opinion about something, usually starting with these two words: “Should we ...” tell them exactly how you feel. Don’t worry about what they want to hear or what they need to hear. What they want to hear is your professional and personal and decisive answer as an artist. Trust me, they’ll respect you even more when you give them the right answer with tremendous confidence in your voice ... and you always know what the right answer is.

· No one has ever asked if they could watch me make my art. I wouldn’t mind, though. While I’m making it I always think of certain people who’d be pretty damn amazed I sort of know what I’m doing.

· I love it when people visit my studio ... to talk art or to buy. I really do. All of a sudden you’ve got a room full of like-minded people. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world and the most deeply satisfying time you’ll ever spend with other human beings.

· The worst part about making art ain’t getting paint in your nose hairs ... although your friends think it’s hilarious. Anyhow, it’s waiting for your masterpiece to dry. Of course, starting on your next masterpiece while your last masterpiece is drying keeps you from being lonely.

· Here’s how you’ll know once and for all that you really don’t like a piece you’ve made ... you don’t like looking at it. That’s how you know.

· So you’ve decided to make a piece of art and give it as a gift. No shortcuts. No thinking they won’t notice this little area or that little area where you weren’t perfect and professional. Nope. You still have to go about a gift piece as if you’re making a piece that’s been commissioned.

· If you haven’t discovered how to become a world famous artist yet you’re not trying hard enough.

· Did you watch the documentary “Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?” I have a theory. Here it is: Pollock started the piece, he died, and then his artist wife, Lee Krasner, finished it.

· Eat before you make art. Otherwise you’ll be thinking about what’s on today’s menu at Mary Mac’s Tea Room rather than doing a good job on the art you’re making.

· You may not be able to make world-class art, but you know what it looks like when you see it. Think about that for a long time … and then go give your own world-class art a try.

· Want to paint a piece that’s sweet and sentimental? Listen to the Allman Brothers’ song “Little Martha” while you paint. Over and over and over.

· Do you have a lot of books about art and artists? Do you read them? Do you at least gaze through them? You should. At least one or two of them every day.

· Never give up on creating your own style and signature look. There’s still a whole lot of room out there for you.

· Go make art. Right now.

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