Walt Disney in an old documentary about painting makes some very strong comments about “how to paint.” He quotes from Robert Henri’s book then shows what four other artists do to create a painting.
In the end, someone said, all artists are self taught. That is to say that every artist must spend the time struggling at their own easel, without coaching or teachers, to find the way to paint to suit them. That means that painting is, essentially, a sink or swim school of learning. You cannot be taught what you like . . . .nor can you be taught taste . . . what inspires you has to do with how you have lived, your genetic code, your parents and what ever artistic influences have struck you in your life and many more events and introductions experienced in your life. In short, only you can decide what is right for you! Every great artist makes art that is unique . . . .that is to say no other artist paints like another.
Yes, but how do I get there? Paint! That is an active verb. You can’t really get it from workshops, or watching others, or reading or even school. Sure, there are parts that can be learned in any of these venues, but most of that stuff has to do with mediums, brushes, surfaces and different techniques. From there, the student must plow the ground themselves. Certainly, there are hints here and there, but the fact remains that personal easel time is the very best teacher out there.
Some of us call that time spent “Brush Mileage.” Or, wasting acres of paper or canvas.
As a general comment, in these times that we live, most of us grew up in schools where we learned to “please the teacher.” And to do that, we had to do things a specific way to come out with the ‘right answer.’ After watching this 16 minute video, you will see that there is NO right answer. That is why I think that beginners should not be asking for critique from anyone other than wise highly qualified painters who could cause the student to learn quickly about personal insight in the painting process.
Enjoy this video: Click here.
Today, after several weeks of working on two paintings, specifically to raise my bar of quality and to test that bar height against the best of the best watercolor painters in, maybe, the world . . . .but for sure, the USA, . . . .I completed the two paintings.
One has been “finished” for months. But a day or two ago I looked at it again, in one of those deep concentrative states, and saw sooo many things which needed tuning up to high quality. Funny, how one simply doesn’t “see” until he is ready to SEE!
There is an old saying: When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. And my teacher really showed up this week! I was led to learn the Law of Attraction . . . an led to learn about the power we each hold to draw in virtually anything that might be in our world of desire . . . . even if it is a minor thing. Being led there was precisely the very thing I needed to come to terms with all the many things which have been flowing in my direction for years. Actually, I have always suspected that we artistic people are more than just creators of pretty paintings. There is something way bigger at work in our creative consciousness!!! The fact is that we create virtually everything that “happens” to us as we go through our lives.
That might be a difficult thing to understand or even believe for many people. But I can say, without reservation, that we DO get what we wish for . . . .even unconsciously wishing.
So much for that for this article. For twenty five years, as you know, Dear Reader, I have been learning to paint . . . .and my teacher lives at the business end of my paint brushes. That’s right. It is me. I have studied, and learned. I have painted and learned. I have entered shows, competitions and exhibitions and learned. I have taken and taught workshops and learned. I have observed other painters and learned. The fact is the hunger to understand never, ever quite relaxes. That hunger is my teacher. And projects such as this one are exquisite challenges to rise above mediocrity and to reach for excellence!
Once per year, there is an art organization in New York City that stages a juried exhibition once per year around the first part of the year. This is a water media show and I must say that the best of the best painters apply to show in that prestigious exhibition. This will be the third time I will be accepted, IF the jurors so decide to accept the paintings I have prepared for this purpose. And within that third time there are great honors . . . .recognition by my peers and superiors . . . that the paintings submitted stand up to the few masters who hold similar honors. It is one of those propositions that haunts and haunts one until it is attained. It is one of those things that is constantly nagging at my standards of excellence. And, mind you, there is no easy path to be there. One just needs to be at one with that business end of the paint brush that I spoke of a few paragraphs ago . . . for many, many paintings . . . until enough “brush mileage”has accumulated and mastery begins to appear.
That, my dear friends, is something that simply has called to me for years . . . . to reach the possibility of mastery. In fact, you might understand more if I said that “I AM the Possibility of Mastery.” I live in that possibility. I breathe it. I think about it. I even teach it in an indirect way. It is way more than play, or a simple pastime or hobby. It is the possibility of fulfilling a dream!!
So here it is. I have completed the work for this year. Honors might possibly be waiting to find me in January . . . . or they won’t . . . . .which means that I am not yet ready . . . that more effort is required. That the universe has given me this task to fully complete . . .no matter what . . . and it has provided something else for me to chew on while I ply away at this endeavor: pure, unadulterated joy and happiness along the way! I must confess that I recognize that I have been bestowed with a few great gifts!! Those gifts were never meant to be squandered or taken for granted. They were given to be developed to the optimum state that they can be! And I am grateful for them . . . .yes, painting . . . . at least the desire to be excellent at it . . . has been one of those gifts. Another is the possibility of loving . . . .yes, LOVING. To bathe in that possibility is a gift from god . . . .as is the gift of creativity.
You may think that these are the ramblings of someone who has gone daft, but I can assure you, daft I am not. I have stepped into all of the challenges for each of the possibilities and done so willingly and with great passion.
And so, Dear Reader, I am quite alive and quite enthused about every moment of being alive . . . .and grateful for my gifts . . . . .even if I might have to wait in suspense for this January’s decisions . . .or the next . . .or the next after that. I signed up for this. And I am prepared to accept the challenges and the results . . . . for what else is there other than the joy of the journey??