IT'S NOT THAT HARD...UNTIL IT IS
So, you've decided that you love art! Yay! We need some great art in the world. We need your ideas! We need your creativity! We need your mind to help our community to build the next trends in culture!
RULE #1: BE PASSIONATE ABOUT SOMETHING
You can't just be passionate about art, but something other than art. It could be politics, psychology, baseball, furbies, animals, life, particle physics, the weird neighbors across the street that drive their golf carts to the store rather than walking (because it's only a block away).
Want to learn about stuff. It will become your focus as an artist. We start being artists because we like things in the world and we want to emulate them. We love our family, so as children we draw our block house and stick figure parents and siblings. We love comic books, so we draw our favorite heroes. We either keep doing it, or it dies. If you're reading this, you probably didn't let that die! That's awesome.
RULE #2: START MAKING ART
Break out the paints, the camera, the digital apps, the pencil, the sketchbook, the block of stone and start chiseling away at making art. Don't get bogged down by the technique just yet. Just have some fun and make something, because "Gosh darn it! It's fun!"
Chances are, you suck at this! That's okay. Own it. You're just getting started. You suck at this because you haven't quite reached RULE #3! Don't be ashamed or discouraged. If you want to be good....nay, GREAT...at anything, you have to keep doing.
RULE #3: LEARN THE TECHNIQUE
If you want an audience to respond to your work in positive ways, you have to learn how to make your work well! You might have great ideas, but the moment you present a poorly made piece of art, your message is lost (your family might give you praise, but don't listen to them...they're biased).
Learn how to use your tools. Your paints, your brushes, your camera, your software, your printer, your pencil, your ink, your watercolor, whatever you use. If your art is smearing dirt on a rock, by golly, do it to the best of your ability (and then get better at it!).
Not only that, learn the ELEMENTS & PRINCPLES OF DESIGN. These will help you to fine tune your process and finally let your art take advantage of your audience's subconscious brain. So consider the Elements: LINE, SHAPE, FORM, SPACE, VALUE, COLOR, and TEXTURE. And don't forget the Principles: BALANCE, PATTERN, RHYTHM, EMPHASIS, HARMONY, VARIETY, MOVEMENT, UNITY, PROPORTION, GRADATION, VARIETY, etc.
There's a lot to learn. As Isaac Asimov once said, "People think of education as something they can finish." If you finish learning...you're doing it wrong.
RULE #4: DEVELOP YOUR IDEAS
Content is the heart of your work. What is YOUR work about? Who are you? How much of you have you poured into your work? Take your passions and seek the best way to express that in your visual medium. NOT THE FIRST WAY. The best way. You might make a dozen variations before you perfect your concept enough that the viewer has no choice but to feel your expression (even if they still disagree with you). It should be clear, removed of distraction, and direct in its ideas (even if the idea is to be vague and mysterious).
RULE #5: SHOW YOUR WORK OFF
Put your work on display. Show it to friends, family, strangers. Make a blog. Make a vlog. Submit to contests, art fairs, exhibitions. Hang it on your wall. Sell it to someone so you can make room for making more art! Get it out there and keep track of the people that like and appreciate your work. Start a group to meet with regularly and talk about and share new work. Make yourself accountable to create. Join a co-op. Do whatever it takes.
And don't stop. It's hard to restart. You didn't let your visual creativity die when you were a child. Don't let go now!
Now go make art.