Personal Coach for Artists

In Robert Genn’s latest newsletter he is talking about personal coaches and the value that artists could gain from them. He isn’t about to become a personal coach himself, but he has made a list of things that an artist could do to make progress.

Here’s the full newsletter and here’s his list (I hope he doesn’t mind me posting it)..

  • Find a sanctuary where you can comfortably work.
  • Dedicate at least two hours a day to your art.
  • Have more than enough equipment and supplies.
  • Set short- and long-term goals and keep track of progress.
  • Think of your work as exercise, not championship play.
  • Explore series development and exhaust personal themes.
  • Work alone with the benefit of books and perhaps tapes.
  • Replace passive consumption with creative production.
  • Use your own intuition and master your technology.
  • Feel the joy of personal, self-generated sweat.
  • Fall in love with your own working processes.
  • Be forever on the lookout for the advent of style.
  • Try to be your own person and claim your rights.
  • Don’t bother setting yourself up for rejection.
  • Don’t swing too wildly and damage the well-being of others.
  • Don’t jump into the ring until you’re feeling fit.

Robert is a Canadian landscape painter and also publishes the Painter’s Keys newsletter twice each week. His paintings can be seen on his website here.

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Great advice. I think the last one is so important. I know it is hard for some but the fragile ego stuff can be tiresome and counter productive.

  2. Nice list of ideas. I especially like the idea of exhausting personal themes, it’s such a broad concept. Is that like painting while asphyxiating yourself in your automobile, or working out some painful memories?

    Be forever on the lookout for the advent of style, well, that’s not something you’d catch Picasso saying, right?

    Don’t bother setting yourself up for rejection. Does that mean, hide all your work, or don’t try anything difficult (like an exhausting personal theme).

    Dion, this is the feel-good list. I want to hear the real in-the-trenches do or die list.

  3. I agree this is a great post. In fact I reposted it myself. The last one can be dangerous though. I know many who are very fit but still do not jump in because they think they are not ready.

  4. I wish I had a personal coach, but I bet it would be prohibitively expensive.

  5. “self-generated sweat”…as opposed to enjoying the feel of someone else’s sweat or that bottled sweat they sell at the grocery store?

  6. I want to add a point, it’s Bill Viola’s point actually, but I happen to agree. I went to a talk a few years ago and he said:

    ” Don’t worry if you think an idea has been done before, do it anyway.”

    I think people will always come up with similar ideas at the same time and people can limit themselves by not making the artwork they want to make because it’s ‘been done before’.

    A lot of things have been done before, but it won’t stop me doing them again, everyone re-interprets things differently anyhow.

  7. That is great advice for artists but I think that having a personal coach removes some of the learning process that makes a great artist

  8. Yeah, its a list that could and should be added to, but it’s a good start to get an artist going.

    Karl, I think it’s meant to be a feel good list. I guess you could add things like..

    Find a psychologist before you start creating art as it will bring up a lot of stuff.

    Learn to like noodles from packets as you probably won’t have much spare cash to buy real food.

    Actually, I might just make this a a new post and have some fun with


  1. [...] recently posted a list of tips for artists by Robert Genn. He was talking about coaching for artists and suggested a few things that could help an [...]

  2. [...] I had a go at my own reality check for artists last year and called it the Do or Die List for Artists, which was inspired by a much more optimistic list for artists by Robert Genn. [...]

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