I'm new to the group. I discovered Richard's website and accepted his invitation to his painting workshop that required I join your group. I'm really hoping this will help build my skills, but I'm posting here for different reasons.
I'd like to know how other artists feel about my question in the title of this post. I seem to constantly ask it of myself. Do others ask this same question? For the same reasons? I'm looking for some hard truths, (and truth be told, hand holding.)
I have always felt that I have the soul of an artist without the prerequisite talent. (Perhaps, there lies the problem.) I have an AA in Graphic Arts, but never pursued it because the kids needed me at home with them. While studying for that degree I discovered calligraphy and have taken classes and weekend workshops for the last 15 years or so, and although I have sold a piece or two, it's never been more than just a hobby. I do teach calligraphy to grade school children for two weeks every summer, but would never try to teach anything more advanced than that.
When the kids grew up and moved away, I went to art school and got a 4 year degree in Fine Arts. I found that experience very frustrating as I'm used to the giving spirit of the calligraphy world, the exacting detail, the specifics of what tool to use when and how to use it. In my painting classes in college my instructors told me to "Paint what I see", and "Just play with the paint". If that was all there was to learning a new skill, I'd also be an astronaut and a brain surgeon! When I said that I wanted instruction; what brush to use for what, thick paint when and thin paint when, how to manipulate the brush to get the shape I need, what kinds of shapes should I use to make a particular image, I got deer-in-the-headlight looks from all of them. They actually said they would not teach me these things, that these were things I had to figure out on my own or I would simply paint like them. My printmaking teacher, sculpture teacher, and drawing teacher felt it important to instruct me in the basics at least, but the entire painting program was focused on concepts. When I pointed out that coming up with a concept was all well and good, but if I didn't have the skills to implement those concepts, what was the point, again, there was that deer-in-the-headlights look or a go-away-you-bother-me attitude. (Sometimes both.)
The result is that my painting is mediocre at best. (and painting was why I went to school to begin with) When you add to this my normal insecurities and the fact that I never sit and doodle, my fingers never twitch with the need for a drawing pencil, (although I will look carefully at things to see where the light falls and how the colors change, where the shadows are, etc.) I have to wonder...am I an artist or just pretending? Do I have an ego a mile wide to think it matters? Am I right to be frustrated with my educational experiences? Different people learn differently, so am I just a square peg in a round hole or is there something fundamentally wrong, specific to me?
I'm interested to hear what you as artists think and feel. Are my experiences similar to yours or unique to me?
Yes, Terry, I agree. The backlash of modern art has been that no one wants to teach the basics because you may harm the intuitive side of your art, HOWEVER, Hans Hoffman spent most of his career exploring and experimenting to learn the basics of color and the whole push/pull effects. Why must I re-invent it. Just teach me what he learned.
On another note, what a joy it would be if I could go to the Bauhaus school of art! Studying with Mies Van der Rohe, etal! That would be heaven.
Exactly! I'm pleased that you were able to find a teacher who was willing to teach you the important basics, as you say, stick with him/her.
It's great to find someone near you who can help you in the here and now, rather than online with the lag times, etc. With that said, Richard's online class is really working for me. The videos really help and the workshop is making me actually paint something.
Delores, I can empathize with your comments above. I am a late beginner to painting (with acrylics for now), picking up a desire to learn that I set aside in my childhood and now in retirement I can truly pursue.
l believe that to learn something well you really need to start at the beginning, learn the terms, the techniques, the whys and whynots and then once the light of understanding finally strikes you, you can branch out and create something that is your own.
Just last evening I went to a short class on learning how to play contract bridge, which my dh wants me to learn so I can play with him someday. The first thing I immediately Iearned was that I need to go reseatch and read some background and get some basics into my head first. The terminology - "a bust", "the game", American Standard Yellow Card", transferring, auction, contract... all of it just scrambled my brains and told me I needed to do lots of homework before next weeks class if I wanted to learn anything about bidding.
Luckly in pursuit of my artistic (painting) goals this year, I've been fortunate to find a few great teachers like Richard who do well with explaining the whys and why nots. To answer your question, I think I"m not an artist yet, but I'm an aspiring one and I will be one someday if I keep learning from those who can teach well.
Thanks for the comments Shirley. Late bloomers. I guess that's us alright...or maybe we're just blooming again. I think I like that thought better. Good luck with the bridge lessons. Sometimes the new experiences, although wonderful, are just overwhelming. I'm sure with a little time and a bunch of homework, the terms will become second nature and your self confidence with blossom. Ha! At this rate, we'll be huge bouquets!
Funny, my son was just commenting on the guy who made "happy little trees" a couple of days ago!
Flounder, is exactly what I do, but I'm not giving up. Some day it will all click and we'll feel this great sense of accomplishment.
What fabulous advice! Those 'what ifs' are really a pain in the backside, but telling all those nagging thoughts to shut up is a bit difficult. Some days it's easier than others. With that said, I'm going to really practice saying 'shut up'!
I love this discussion group!
If you are enjoying Richard Robinson I encourage you to check out Daniel Edmondson. Google him and you will find that he has some YouTube freebies. My favorite freebie is "Three Reasons you Paint Like an Amateur", or something like that....hysterical and true. "Use More Paint", he encourages. Take a look at his website. I am working through his still life series. No, I haven't abandoned Robinson...........it's just a different approach to painting.
Also, my two cents of advice. STOP PAINTING ON CRAPPY CANVASSES. I am now preparing my own wood supports with traditional gesso. WHAT A DIFFERENCE !!!! Really. It gives you a museum quality look immediately instead of that "barely enough paint to cover the canvas, stained cloth" look you get with acrylic gessoed canvas. It is worth the trouble ten-fold.
I am in the same boat with you! However I have no art education behind me and I cannot draw a straight line even with a metal ruler but I know I have the soul of an artist. I joined The Complete Artist about 2 years ago but only recently became active. I have enough art supplies to last me the rest of my life. I keep buying more thinking that when I have enough I will paint. You are an artist, believe it, claim it and practice everyday for your own pleasure and ours................smiles to you dor:))
Thanks Alyson! I will.
Ha! I had to smile when you talked about all the art supplies and painting when you compile enough. I'm the same way! Apparently, I'm hoping that I'll absorb the techniques if I keep buying more stuff! Oh, if only it worked that way!
I think everybody just have the same experience. I was lucky to meet two private teachers who actually made a painting before us just as Richard does. They explained the pespective, the colourmixing and the brushstrokes. Afterwards we were to try the same theme and the session finished with the teachers critics on our work. I still see one of the teachers from time to time and every time I learn something new. :o)