May 9, 2011

From: Fine Art Views

I seldom copy from another people's write ups but this one is such good advise I couldn't resist. This newsletter is one of my favourites.  Enjoy.

Put the Fire Out

by Keith Bond

This article is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

A forest fire was blazing out of control.  Many acres had burned and the fire was continuing to grow.  Firefighters were called in from across the nation to help battle the blaze.  They were spread out around the perimeter of the fire, trying to contain it.  But to no avail.  As hard as they worked, they simply could not make any progress.

Finally, the Fire Chief realized why.  All of these brave men and women were fighting this fire.  But there commission was not to fight it, but rather to put the fire out.  This simple change of focus made all the difference.  And it prompted a change of tactics.

Instead of being spread all around the perimeter, the Fire Chief concentrated the effort to one area at a time.  With much more man-power and a concerted effort in a smaller area, they were soon able to contain that portion of the fire.  They then moved on; working together to contain the next area.  And so on until the entire fire was completely contained.

There is a parallel with your art.

Let’s let the fire represent the areas which need improvement – both with art itself and with your business.  If you are like me, there are plenty of areas in which you need to improve.  It is a lifelong endeavor – that is, if you wish to continue growing as an artist.

Some of the areas might include:  proficiency with your medium, color theory, drawing, composition / design, value relationships, texture, mood, harmony, rhythm, meaning, etc.  Some of the business tasks that need improvement might be:  organization, bookwork, marketing, writing, talking about your art, following-up with clients, managing time, maintaining your website, etc.

Throughout my career I have frequently identified areas which I need to work on.  Much like the firefighters, I concentrate my efforts on one thing at a time – seeing value relationships, for example – until I feel that I have that fundamental “contained.”  I then moved on to something like color theory or composition.  By focusing on one thing at a time, I make quicker progress.  Whenever I attempt containing too many fronts at a time, I struggle and get frustrated.  Little progress is made.

When a fire is contained, it is not extinguished yet.  It is still burning within the containment line.  That line serves as a barrier around the circumference to prevent it from spreading in unwanted directions.  Once it is entirely contained, the fire crews can then work within the containment lines to control the blaze.

Likewise, some level of “containment” in art and business principles does not mean that you have “put the fire out”.  Mastery of all there is to learn – to totally extinguish the fire – takes more than a lifetime.

Although I have reached a certain level of proficiency in several of the principles of art, I find myself returning to them over and over.  There is always more to learn – more work to be done.  I may have contained the fire, now I need to work on controlling it.

And I hope I never put the fire out.

Best Wishes,
Keith Bond

This article appears courtesy of FineArtViews by FASO Artist Websites,
a free email newsletter about art, marketing, inspiration and fine living for artists,
collectors and galleries (and anyone else who loves art).

This article originally appeared at:

For a complimentary subscription, visit:



  1. Awesome article, Bonnie....thanks for sharing. I have that fire for my watercolors and even though fire and water don't mix I'm sure to get a little sizzle and steam from time to time. So exciting!

  2. je suis toujours une grande admiratrice d'aquarelle, bien que je n'en réalise que très rarement... Je suis une autodidacte... la peinture à l'huile me convient parfaitement. J'ai appris en faisant des erreurs (et j'en fais encore!), seulement en ce qui concerne l'aquarelle je pense que certaines leçons en ce qui concerne la technique me seraient utiles...
    Je n'ai pas encore fait le saut... alors je pourrais dire que je joue avec le feu!

  3. I find myself laughing, oddly enough. There is wisdom in those words for sure. The laughter comes from all the years I've loved art and how I just never seem to be able to control the fire, no matter how hard I try!

  4. Bonnie, thank you so much for posting this article. It was exactly what I needed to read today as I sometimes find I get overwhelmed with all I want to improve and run round like a headless chicken, getting nowhere. One thing a time, will be my new motto.!!!

  5. Great post!Thanks for sharing this.

  6. Amazing post! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  7. Thanks Bonnie for this wonderful post. We can all learn from it!!