How to Make Art That Can Change the World

The most historically significant art all has one thing in common. Each one of them were created to communicate something.

Look at art history and all the major works that have changed it and you will see artists expressing ideas, more than merely recording surfaces.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), “The Problem We All Live With,” 1963. Oil on canvas, 36″ x 58″

Just to name a few.

To be a great artist, that looks beyond the surface, we don’t always need to work from our imagination though. Being influenced by the subject, rather than slave to the surface, allows for our own emotions to shine through in the work.

Although, I must warn you. Embarking on this journey is a great deal more difficult than copying the surface. But through persistent and diligent effort expressing ourselves will pay dividends later.

But how do we express ourselves in our work?

Step one: Start with your “why”

Figure out why you paint or draw and go all in on that. There is no wrong answer here. Your emotions and feeling will always be correct. Follow them and they will lead you to the subject matter you feel most compelled to create.

Step two: Cultivate your emotions

Do you want passion in your art?

Study your sensitivities. Cultivate your emotions and understand them so well that you can communicate them in imagery. You could paint the night sky exactly how it looks to a camera, or you can paint it how you see it. Van Gogh did the latter and the world was changed because of it.

Learning the skills of your craft is important, but these are a means to a much greater end. Don’t wait till you’re a master draftsman to begin cultivating your emotions and trying to communicate. Through the emotion, through the passion of your subject, you will find the means or skill to communicate your own idiosyncratic idea.

For your next piece of art ask yourself how you can instill some emotion into the work. What material would communicate your idea best? How can you use that material to express your idea?

Step three: Give it time

It takes time to understand yourself well. It took me over 40 years to really come to grips with the complexity of who I am, and I’m still working on it.

What you feel and think today can change at anytime also. Just because your convinced of one idea now doesn’t mean you will be doing the same months or years from now. Let your emotions guide you. Through them you will work hard to find whatever it takes to express yourself fully.

Step four: Get to work

Effort is necessary. If you want to be an artist that changes the world with what you create you need to put in the time in front of the easel. Look at any great artist out there, research their history, and you will see tens of thousands of hours spent on their craft. This is not negotiable, you must put in the effort. But you can make this easy if you love what you do. If you’re emotionally invested that will take care of itself.

Lastly, the whole idea of How to make art that can change the world is much more complex than any one short post can allow for. I could write a host of books on the subject I’m sure. Please argue with me, let me know what you think.

The Tenth Doctor David Tennant drawing

Very close to finishing Dr Who, I hope to get him done before next week!

Previous Dr Who Drawing Posts


The normal 15 minute warm-up in graphite.


Memory Gestures

Memory gestures from the The Natural Way to Draw book is an exercise that I always feel I have to make excuses for. The drawing are terrible. This is because I’m drawing them in 20 seconds from memory, only after looking at each image for 60 seconds. It’s tough and a great way to train memory.

What went well, what was awesome! Celebrate It!

Super focused day today and I really like this post and the video about how to make art that can change the world.

What needs work? What did you learn?

I need to practice my memory gestures more, they were worse than last time.

How am I going to Optimize moving forward?

I may make time for more memory work when I review a book training artists on memorization.

Session Details

  • Session: 2843
  • Work: 1749
  • Width: 12"
  • Height: 18"
  • Medium: Charcoal, Graphite
  • Location: Home
  • Art Time: 3.5
  • Creative Time:



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Christopher Beaven

Christopher Beaven

I am an Artist and a programmer currently living in the amazing state of Washington. I have a passion for art, but I'm stubborn as hell with it. My day is complete only when I do some piece of art each day, no matter how small. "There was a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish, it was so fragile."

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