The Active Qualities of An Artist

This week  I’m moving onto the Active Qualities of an Artist even though I said at the end of the last post that I would be discussing ‘making meaning in art’ because it seems I have already covered that subject in some depth. Did you know that there are 17 active qualities of an artist, which include the skills and emotional states an artist uses during the creative process. See them listed below in the order in which we draw on them as we create a work of art. They also relate to the process of beginning a work and describe skills that we draw on as we proceed.  These active qualities of an artist can apply as much to a writer or an actor as they do to a visual artist.

  1. Being
  2. Loving
  3. Thinking
  4. Gathering
  5. Dreaming/Imaginating
  6. Choosing
  7. Committing
  8. Acting
  9. Looking
  10. Learning
  11. Making mistakes
  12. Doubting
  13. Encountering
  14. Rebelling
  15. Stopping
  16. Affirming
  17. Making meaning

Over the course of the next few posts we will be looking at these active qualities of an artist and discussing why they are important to the making of art or other creative endeavours.  My primary focus tends to be on the visual arts as that is my peronal area of experitise, however many of the active qualities  of an artist relate to all the other creative fields as well.


First up we have being. What does this mean? Being is a quality of existence that we all embody. We know we are alive and we can always strive for ‘well being’. This sense of being is intrinsic to who you are. It embodies your individuality and therefore the more you are in touch with your core being, the more authentic your art will be as an an expression of the unique you.

“We can either work at the project of living or proceed passively” – Eric Maisel PH.D

We are alive. We are humans ‘being’. However we must choose to actively ‘live’, to be, with passion and aliveness. We need to learn to be in the moment. Once you commit to being with aliveness you will also commit to starting. And starting is an area we often falter creatively.

Active qualities of an artists - beginnings

Beginnings – a page from my Artist’s Diary.

It is the equivalent of suicide for an artist to not begin a work of art.


To be an artist you need to love yourself. Ouch! Is that a difficult statement for you? Why would I say that? Well for one thing, an artist spends a lot of time in their own company. You need to like that person you are spending time with or you will be tempted to be constantly rushing off and having coffee with friends, or taking a break to watch a DVD or whatever else distracts you. To be with your work, is to have a relationship with it. Is this a loving or a hateful relationship? For the artist, to not begin is a state of being unloving to yourself. To begin is to love.


Posted by: Kadira Jennings

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