Some artists make a big deal out of being self taught, but
truth of the matter is, all artists are self taught.
The difference between the two is encapsulated in two
Are you learning oil painting for example only from yourself, just from what you can
dredge up from "the artist within"?
Talent alone does not result in a well executed figurative oil painting. Skill, practice, and a background in the fundamentals of how to oil paint are necessary to go
beyond the stick figure. Emerald Dreams by Steve Henderson, original
oil painting, note
card, and miniature.
Or are you learning from other people--teachers, writers,
other artists both dead and alive, magazine resources, workshops for oil painting techniques
, books, the
successes of others, the mistakes of others, comments and critiques--basically
external sources that you read, analyze, review, try out, and experiment with,
internalizing what works and shaping it into that "artist within"?
While art is a talent, it does not grow by itself in a
vacuum, and for an artist to reach his or her potential, they need a grasp of
the basics, a grounding in fundamentals, and training.
This makes total sense when we're talking about an engineer
or a mathematician, but for some reason, when we talk oil painting art, our right brain supersedes
the left to the point that instruction gives way to feelings, skill to emotion,
proficiency to passion.
One of the key ways of recognizing whether you need work in
an area is to determine if you are compensating for your lack of training in
it. Ask yourself:
Do I paint noses this way because I want to, or because I
don't know any other way of doing it?
If the answer is the latter, bring your skill level up so
that you can paint a nose the way you want it to look.
Passion, emotion, and feelings--yes, these are important. But they are
not enough without proficiency, skill, and instruction, and the best artists--who are self-motivated, self-disciplined, and truly self-taught, incorporate
all six elements, seamlessly, into their work and their being.