As much as the stereotype of the solitary painter working alone and
shutting him- or herself off from the world makes artists seem
mysterious and cool, I’ve found that artists tend to be fairly social
creatures, and their cool factor isn’t lessened by their sense of
community. Sometimes this is situational—you are in a painting or
drawing workshop or class, and you swap stories and commiserate and
encourage your fellow students because you are working through the same
issues and assignments.
No, not Spanish or Italian or French. An artist needs to be fluent
in the languages of realism and abstraction. By realism I mean the formal
aspects of art--the painting techniques and drawing skills we develop over time
through experience. Abstraction is the other side of the coin, the visual
language that frees us to paint and draw what is going on inside our heads. It
means that I may be looking at a tree, but I want to paint power, life, majesty,
and wisdom. The tree becomes a vessel for my message, not the message itself.
When I was a kid, my mom always cut coupons on Sunday morning. I’d sit
beside her and do the same, but I’d flip through magazines and
newspapers and cut out pictures I liked or lettering that I thought was
neat, and I never gave up my artsy coupon clipping habit because it’s a
great way to pull inspirational images into my orbit.