Sunday, March 29, 2009

All Art Is Self Taught...

All art is self taught whether it's painting, music or dance. Of course there are great teachers, books and all sorts of learning tools to take advantage of. What I'm saying is that you should take control of your own education. This means a little more work for you but the benefits are great. Look within yourself to seek your direction and goals. What type of art do you love? What painters excite you? What do you want to achieve with your work? Then by weighing your strengths and weaknesses you can clearly find what tools you'll need to get there. If you are in charge of your own training you will pick the right instructors who will fill your needs. The alternative is to study with teacher after teacher who will pour information into you... some helpful, but mostly not important to your particular needs. You may be led down the wrong path which for some, may take years to recover. Art education is confusing and contradictory. For example, you are told to use a limited palette by one instructor and then the next teacher will give you a list of 25 colors. You will do a tight monochromatic underpainting –  or do a loose, colorful block-in. That's where you have to decide clearly on what you want your paintings to ultimately look like. You have to have a clear vision of your work not someone else's. There are so many options, all valid... but if you take control then you will be able to decide on the right instructors and pull from them what YOU need. You can ask the right questions – help them to help you. Every painting and drawing will be a path to success. Life drawing and plein air painting will be purposeful exercises not mindless activities. There is so much to learn... but if you have a clear goal and decide to educate yourself... of course with the help of instructors, books, etc... you will move ahead.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Three Keys

When teaching my painting workshops... I usually begin by taking the mystery out of “learning” to paint and draw. I have found there are three keys to developing success:

1. TALENT: Like it or not we are not created equal when it comes to talent. Some people are just born with more talent when it comes to drawing and painting. Years ago at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, they exhibited one of John Singer Sargent's sketchbooks. Page after page of the most beautiful drawings... done at age 14. The starting line for the road ahead is not the same for everyone. But remember the road is long and it's not talent alone that gets us to the finish line.

2. KNOWLEDGE: The basics are easy to find whether you get them from an instructor or from a book. The more you know , the better you will get. It's as simple as that. If you are going to paint in color you must know color theory. If you are going to paint figures and portraits you must know anatomy... landscapes... perspective and so on. I never found learning the basics boring or a burden. In my opinion it's pretty exciting with results ate very turn.

3. PRACTICE: You will never learn to draw or paint if you don't DRAW and PAINT. It's obvious. People who get really good are the ones that do it all the time. They think art, talk art and love art.