I have been learning art from different sources for years. Early on I was naive and took the first few lessons as the exclusive way to do things. As time as gone on and my personal art education has grown, I have learned that to learn new art techniques you must consult multiple sources to come to a determination about what works for you. At times I feel that an artist is passing on a valuable tip, but at other times I feel the artist is simply telling me that their way is the only way and that simply is never the case.
I have been following a weekend online art course and listening to this landscape artist give tips on using photographs to assist in landscape painting. While I have picked up some interesting ideas, I do find myself sighing in annoyance as I feel the artist is coming down on other methods that do work for other artists. As an example, one student submitted a photo of an old 16th century stone building in the middle of this luscious green landscape and wanted to know how to manipulate the composition to produce an effective landscape painting. The instructor said he “wouldn’t paint this even if he was paid to” because the structure is too straight and straight lines bother the eyes. The problem I have with this answer is the implied denouncing of anything man-made in paintings. With his explanation, he is saying only nature is worth painting. Sorry but that is garbage because how many paintings have we seen that include man made structures that work well for the viewer? I have seen marvelous paintings of the Golden Gate Bridge, New York Skyline, and the Great Wall of China. How can this instructor allow his personal preference to pass as a “lesson?” I also have a problem with how he addressed the question. He essentially stepped on the student’s desire to paint something she loved. Not all paintings have to be done just to make money. This is a hobby before its a business.
So now I have learned to filter out the egos that many artists tend to dish out. I also find it hilarious when artists refer to themselves as “Masters.” I recently responded to an artist in a forum, who claimed he was a master artist, with some harsh but structured words. In essence I said a true master is not labeled as such until generations of artists, collectors, and academics have reviewed the works of the artist and determined the work to be exceptional. The overinflated sense of self this guy has will keep him from ever getting better because he thinks he can do no wrong. We have to identify and learn from mistakes to get better – he never will as I told him. I’ll spare you the rest of the flame war that ensued, but let’s just say I had more supporters that he did in that forum. Please oh please…leggo his ego.
Meanwhile on the easel, the next post should provide you with some information about my newest painting. I will also be talking about my next project and why I chose it.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled painting.