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Jul 13, 2017

Have you ever wondered how a self taught artist fares in today’s art scene? Do they have the same difficulties and opportunities as artists who have been through the traditional route? What unique lessons can we learn from this subset of creators who defy conventional expectations? My guest, Julian Merrow Smith is a self taught artist who has plenty of insight to share about his journey. In our conversation, we touched on his move to France, how he taught himself how to paint, why he decided to start teaching workshops, how he works through disappointment, and much more. I can’t wait for you to get to know the side of Julian that came out in our interview!

Creative Inspiration

What inspires you to create your artwork? Is it people, places, concepts, or something else? When I get the chance to peer into the mind of an artist I enjoy the wonderful opportunity to explore what inspires them, what really makes them come alive. It intrigues me to hear what inspires various artists as they approach their canvas. Artist Julian Merrow Smith shared with me that he likes to use what he sees around him each day at his home in the countryside of France. He draws inspiration from peaches at this point in the season when I spoke with him. Catch a glimpse of Julian’s work captured in the images section at the end of this post!

Discovering What NOT to do

It’s always a privilege when I get to sit down and talk to artists whose career path has been different than my own. I love hearing from artists who discovered their passion for art late in life and from others who found their way as a self taught artist. Julian Merrow Smith took the time to share with me his journey and the lessons he has taken away from the experience of teaching himself how to paint. One of the key insights that Julian shared with me is how he was able to discover his unique voice and creative path by putting in the long hard hours and by deciding after each completed work what aspect he did NOT want to continue to produce from that painting. Julian was kind enough to share many more insights and lessons from his art career - I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

From Self Taught Artist to Teacher

Can you imagine the pressure and stress that comes with teaching students to do what you’ve only discovered how to do on your own? Imagine you have no frame of reference to look back upon, no formal teaching in the subject matter in which you are being asked to teach. Self taught artist Julian Merrow Smith found himself in that very scenario. Students and established artists alike have been drawn to Julian’s work and want to learn from him. In proper response, Julian has begun offering workshops. The unique circumstance is not lost on Julian, in our conversation we discussed his feelings of serving as a teacher in a subject where he didn’t have one.

Momentum can be KEY

How do you keep the ball moving as an artist? What practices do you turn to that keep you coming back to the canvas over and over again to hone your craft? I’ve heard from artists over and over again that once they’ve stepped away from their work for a period of time, they find it very difficult to return. Yet, I also have heard from well-known artists that stepping away for a period of time has been essential for their mental and emotional capacity to continue to create. In my conversation with Julian Merrow Smith, we discussed how this topic has played out in his creative journey. There may not be a one size fits all solution, but the KEY is figuring out what works for YOU.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:40] I introduce my guest, Julian Merrow Smith.
  • [3:30] How Julian got his start as an artist.
  • [8:30] Why did Julian move to France?
  • [11:00] Julian talks about teaching himself how to paint.
  • [13:00] How do you find your voice as an artist?
  • [16:00] Julian’s process in the studio and what inspires his paintings.
  • [21:30] What led Julian to start teaching workshops?
  • [30:30] Julian talks about his approach to the canvas.
  • [35:30] Working through disappointment.
  • [42:30] The difficulty of stopping and starting.
  • [45:30] Sometimes you just need to go paint.

Other artists mentioned on this episode

Resources Mentioned on this episode

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