The Self-Taught Artist — Who Isn’t?

30 Mar

Some artists make a big deal out of being self taught, but truth of the matter is, all artists are self taught.

Art -- and learning to create art -- is fluid, movable, ever changing and adapting -- as flexible as fabric billowing in the breeze.

The difference between the two is encapsulated in two questions:

Are you learning only from yourself, just from what you can dredge up from “the artist within”?

Or are you learning from other people – teachers, writers, other artists both dead and alive — magazine resources, workshops, books, the successes of others, the mistakes of others, comments and critiques – basically external sources that you read, analyze, review, try out, and experiment with, internalizing what works and shaping it into that “artist within”?

While art is a talent, it does not grow by itself in a vacuum, and for an artist to reach his or her potential, he needs a grasp of the basics, a grounding in fundamentals, and training.

This makes total sense when we’re talking about an engineer or a mathematician, but for some reason, when we talk art, our right brain supersedes the left to the point that instruction gives way to feelings, skill to emotion, proficiency to passion.

One of the key ways of recognizing whether you need work in an area is to determine if you are compensating for your lack of training in it. Ask yourself:

Do I draw noses this way because I want to, or because I don’t know any other way of doing it?

If the answer is the latter, bring your skill level up so that you can draw a nose the way you want it to look.

Passion, emotion, and feelings – yes these are important. But they are not enough without proficiency, skill, and instruction, and the best artists – who are self-motivated, self-disciplined, and truly self-taught, incorporate all six elements, seamlessly, into their work and their being.


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