34. Drawing with Help
For many years, it was traditional to study under a ‘master’ artist to learn techniques and basic knowledge. An apprentice would study for years, helping to mix paint and prepare canvasses before being allowed to paint in the style of his Master. There was no such thing as individual expression or interpretation until he (and it usually was a ‘he’) was able to start up a studio of his own. Even then, art was commissioned by the Church and the moneyed classes, and subject matter and style were dictated.
It’s very different today – everyone can paint and draw whatever they like and everything they make can be called ‘art’. Those who wish to study techniques (not everyone does) can easily find it on the internet, usually for free.
Perhaps it’s too easy. There are endless books, YouTube films, DVD’s and online courses about art; some are really helpful, others not at all. The temptation is to read or watch the demonstrations and step-by-steps and not actually DO them. There’s no-one there to guide us by saying ‘just look again at that shape, that curve, that form’.
We try to be our own tutor and our own student too, and it can be hard inspiring ourselves and keeping ourselves going. It’s difficult to even notice your own mistakes and shortcomings, let alone what to DO about them! Bit like life, really…..
I will be forever grateful for my own college tutors and for every artist I have had the pleasure of working with. I think it’s always a good idea to join a group and/or take classes or workshops to keep you inspired and moving forward. There’s nothing wrong at all with being ‘self taught’, but we all learn and grow by looking at other artist’s work that we admire, and learning from their experience and knowledge.
Creativity is like lighting candles – once you have lit your own you can spread the light far and wide by lighting others. If you keep it to yourself you’ll have no-one to relight your flame if you lose your way!