Good and Bad Habits: Three Artists on What to Keep and What to Let Go


We are creatures of our own customs, and these three artists share how they foster good habits, and vanquish the bad ones. There is one thing they all agree on: Keep working, regardless of the obstacles or even time constraints. Making work inevitably leads to better work.

Kristy Gordon

Beautiful Dangerous (oil on canvas, 16 x 20)

Most effective art habit: “The most effective habit I have is to paint for a minimum of 25 minutes every single day. This habit has broken me out of artist’s block and helped me move through all the toughest challenges on any painting. Twenty-five minutes is such a short time that I can never say ‘I don’t have the time’ and it’s amazing what you can get done in 25 minutes.”

Hardest habit to break: “Breaking the nearly constant negative self talk that occurs, telling myself it’s not good enough and I’m not a good enough painter and I’ll never figure this painting out. I can find ways to use that negative self-talk to strategize about how to make a painting better.”

Kristy Gordon has a BFA from the Ontario College of Art and Design and an MFA from The New York Academy of Art. She has exhibited her work in exhibitions throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, and China, and it is currently in more than 600 collections. She is currently an adjunct professor at the New York Academy of Art.

Jeanne Rosier Smith

Floating (pastel, 24 x 48)

Most effective art habit: “Painting almost every day has been life changing for me. I’ve learned that the more you paint, the more ideas you generate, and the more you want to paint, the better the work gets.”

Hardest habit to break: “Trying to do everything myself. As an artist you’re a one-man-band, and it’s easy to assume you have to do everything yourself. At some point that becomes impossible, and giving up control and outsourcing some things, though it was scary, was the best thing I could have done.”

Jeanne Rosier Smith, PSA, IAPS-EP, has painted in and taught pastels for more than twenty years. She is represented by nine galleries in the US, and her work has been exhibited in museums nationwide and resides in collections on six continents. 

Julie Gilbert Pollard

Wild Rose Cove (watercolor, 10 x 14)

Most effective art habit: “Showing up and doing the work, whatever it takes. My work ethic is extremely strong. When I have a deadline to meet, I work until the work is done. What I’ve found out about my creative personality over a period of 40 plus years, is that I have a ritual, a compulsive routine that happens every time I begin a new painting. I HAVE to go through a period of searching – and searching – for the scene I want to commit to, then doing a few preliminary studies. Once this compulsion has been satisfied, that’s when I’m able to paint.”

Hardest habit to break: “Breaking the need to paint inside the lines. As a painter who is continually working toward a looser way of painting, I’ve set a personal goal of creating more lost edges in my work. Sometimes you need to make a conscious decision about the direction you want your painting to take. Practice then leads to new habits.”

Julie Gilbert Pollard paints in oil and watercolor, with a focus on mountain streams and waterfalls. In addition to winning numerous awards, she also authored Discover Oil Painting and Watercolor Unleashed. She is a signature member of National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society and she is represented by Esprit Decor Gallery, Raku Gallery, and Sedona Arts Center Gallery.


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