I feel that these uncertain financial times have spawned a plethora of "new faces" into the art business... who sincerely believe that armed with a handful of paintings... a few hours of dvd instruction and a free web site... that they "have arrived" and can call themselves"artists." I am not criticizing their desire... or their valid right to enter the art field and market... but I am questioning their notion that they "have arrived."
A true artist pursues his or her craft as an avocation and not as a hobby. Tenure in that kind of pursuit of excellence lasts a lifetime. It commences with an interest and through diligence... searching... experimenting with a number of mediums and refining of skill... it can blossom into a passion which inspires and motivates one to continue the search for new ideas and knowledge for as long as one is able to participate. As with firewood... ageing is a prerequisite to create optimum "heat" and longevity in that flame. And like a wood fire... the he(art)h must be constantly tended... and new fuel added to perpetuate and increase its strength and vitality. Otherwise... the fire will go out!
Simply making art is not enough to fully understand...to discover the breadth of possibility... or to create a unique style of one's own. One must religiously read... view the art of others and examine the lives and processes of master painters... past and present. Through these sources... knowledge gradually seeps into the very foundation of one's own creative process, where it seems a pathway emerges upon which one can travel... for the remainder of their years of painting.
Add to this... the religious discipline of a monk and drawers... or maybe even rooms filled with (unsold) sketches and paintings which reveal a body of work... a compulsive bid to gain proficiency in at least one medium. To this recipe, add a dash of courage... the courage to approach a main line successful art gallery with one's port folio in hand... or a national juried show to determine whether or not critical evaluation matches one's own measuring device.
After these steps have been taken along the pathway to adding the title "artist" to one's accomplishments... one might consider one last test to see whether or not one has "made it." Consider teaching a small class of individuals who are without a compass... but would like to try their hand at creating art because they always had a feeling that they might be able to do so and would enjoy it. In preparing lessons and activities to lead, or at least guide these neophytes... one learns a great deal about the actual process of gaining creative potential. You are able to see it develop in its smallest increments and to watch it emerge painfully at times... and in leaps and bounds in others. You will discover very quickly... that such learning is both developmental in its nature and unique to every individual. It is exactly that for us all!
Through having to lead another through the labyrinth... you gain knowledge of your own strengths and weaknesses. You will even have to lay aside your own medium of strength... to teach outside your own comfort zone. Teaching techniques in water media... is vastly different than pencil, oils or pastels. Are you up for the challenge? Dare you step into the ring without your weapon of choice? If you can... and dare to... you will learn much about your own artistic abilities. And after your experience... you might then feel more deserving of the much bandied about title of "Artist"... simply because, now it is not the title that counts... but rather it is the life style... the path chosen to conduct your journey... and to share with others!
In closing... I will offer my answer to the student at the beginning. I paraphrased a version of something I had recently read during my own searching... but could not quote. I will also offer some jpegs which show the growth and fire in her journey! I thank Marsha... for profoundly elevating my own self-knowledge! I am proud of your accomplishment and enthusiasm! Fair journey this winter! See you (with your bundle of paintings, I hope)... next Spring!
Her persistence in working on her own between our sessions as shown in the fall landscape... which she repeated three times reveals that she has the fire within. She has created a studio with the assistance of her husband and spends her leisure moments painting..... painting... and painting!!! Can't wait to see her work when she returns!
Marsha's acrylic version of :Lanterns and Brown-eyed Susan is shown above... and my version below. We both learned a great deal... together during this session. She learned about drawing form... applying colour colour and values.
I... on the other hand was painting out of my element... playing with new possibilities using acrylics in a wash technique... building colour layer upon layer.
Learning through "play"...is exciting when it is shared without fear of judgement... or failure. It is enriching to the soul... and builds esteem. It is both meditation... and therapy... all rolled into one!
I think our enjoyment and learning is evident in both pieces!
A student beginning their search to become an artist is akin to a reader on page one of a three hundred page book. Not wishing to sound pompous... I added that after 68 years, I was on page sixteen... and am by my nature.... the kind of reader who relishes a newly discovered book and preserves its duration by delaying its end. I never want the book to end! That is "Me"!... Could that be "You"????
Good Painting to ALL!!