It's been a couple decades since I had any faith in my artistic abilities, but I feel drawn to it now. By chance, I've been given all kinds of art materials and enough time to explore. But every time I make a mark on paper or mix some paints, I have an inner voice saying "who do you think you are?" I would really love to be able to paint or draw landscapes that are pleasing to me. I would love to learn how to work with light. I am amazed at what some artists are able to do and want to understand more. How do I get past that inner voice and the intimidation? Please advise.
The best advice I have is to pick up Julia Cameron's book, "The Artist's Way" & do the course. She specifically addresses exactly what you're talking about.
Nature knows no borders
Kathryn, Judy is right about Julia Camerons book, it's good advice.
My advice is more hands-on, you need to sit down and paint! The voice you hear is the voice of others saying words YOU put in their mouth. Does what I say make sense? I am an amateur with little formal education in art, and maybe I shouldn't try to give advice, but my experience is similar to yours. I overcame my fear once I realized one important thing, I am the only one who can paint the world the way I see it! When I paint a tree people can say "that's not the way to paint a tree". They might be right, but what they can't say is "that's not the way YOU paint a tree" because they can't know and I just painted a tree that way.
What I am trying to say is that my inner picture can only be painted by me, and your inner picture can only be painted by you. Not painting it would be denying yourself the gift of creativity, and once you get over your fear and start painting , some people will like and some won't care. It's the ones that like it that are important, because they are the ones blessed by your gift.
Stop listening to your inner voice and start looking at your inner picture, paint what you want the way you see it and soon the pleasing landscapes will come, the light will show up and with experience you will be able to expand further. It might not look like the paintings you see at museums or galleries, but they will be painted your way, showing you, and they will speak to people.
My website: www.wishsong.com
Thank you both, Judy and Bo. I immediately took a look at that book and purchased it. It should arrive next week. Bo, I found your message to be inspirational. Thank you.
On a practical level, do you think it is good to start out getting instruction or joining workshops? Or is it better to work by oneself for awhile, at least until I get a sense of what is me? For me, it's easy to end up copying the technique and style of others, and I'm not sure that's really helpful if I'm trying to get to that inner picture. What is the best balance? I know some people never get instruction from others at all, but how far do they go?
I am sure you will enjoy the book and get inspiration from it, Kathryn!
When I started out I took workshops, and the most rewarding part was that I got time dedicated to painting. If you feel like you can't set time aside at home, the reasons might be family, kids, work or other "stuff", then a workshop can be a great idea. I felt like I already had the basic knowledge but no time when I could totally focus on painting, and when I got to sit down and only paint it was a new world opening up to me.
When it comes to technique and material it's important to learn from every available source, books, teachers, artists, videos, magazines. When we make the first painting that we are really satisfied with we want it to last, so good material and basic knowledge on how to use it is important. You will find that once you are comfortable with your material and tools you will also be able to experiment and try new things.
To me copying the technique is ok, but I am more doubtful about copying a style. Like you say, will it help you find your inner picture and own style? I figure the best balance is individual, how much guidance do we need and how easy is it for us to break free from the "teachers style" and create our own art?
This is how it works for me: I have many sources of inspiration, other artists, stories, places, fantasies, memories and they all serve as a foundation in my art. When I paint all of that becomes a part of the painting in a subtle, subconscious way. For me, copying something or having it in front of me when I paint limits me. I mostly work from sketches I make when I can't paint for some reason. They serve as my library of ideas and are pencil sketches, no color, no "style". When I sit down and paint I work from the sketch, I have a good start but no specific goal. This way I'm free but I also have a red line.
I hope my ramblings can give you some ideas,
As Bo suggests, any kind of learning really helps, but the most important thing is to just do it!
I would suggest looking up drawing and/or painting courses in your area, especially one that will last 6 or 10 or 12 weeks, so you will commit to one evening once every week. Not only will you have a set time to work, but you will be getting instruction & feedback, as well as inspiration from fellow students.
You can find art courses in your area at a variety of places, including many of your local high schools, colleges, libraries, art schools, art centres, art museums or private instructors.
As well, there are some really great books on painting instruction, & since you mentioned that you're interested in landscapes, I would recommend Albala's Landscape painting book: http://www.amazon.com/Landscape-Painting-Essential-Concepts-Techniques/dp/0823032205
There are also tons of wonderful videos, both here on Artist Daily, & on Youtube... as well as so many great blogs & websites to really get you inspired & take the plunge. It's a lot like jumping into a pool... the water's great, once you get in.
The Artist's way is a good book and there are lots of groups that do this book together. I highly recommend finding one. You might try googling your city with the title. I recently read Eric Maisel's book on coaching artists and it has a few good points also. It's more for people who are already doing art and unlike Cameron's book there are no religious views. The tone of Julia Cameron's book is definitely warmer in tone and focuses on positive spirituality.
One thing you might want to do is realize where that little voice came from.
"Who do you think you are?" What a horrible nasty thing to say to anyone. Yet some of us say it to ourselves. Could you say it to me? Another artist? I bet you wouldn't. But you say it to yourself. It has such a belittling tone which arises from fear. Fear of looking bad, failing, etc. Strangely, it is trying to protect you from feeling bad or being in an unfamiliar circumstances. Strangely, it is looking out for your well being.
Can you feel compassion for this little hurt part that wants attention. Tell it thank you for being concerned, but you need to move aside.--- I want to try to have some fun learning this and yes I am a beginner and will make some bad art before I get to make good art, but I'm willing to give it a try.
Imagine if you are afraid of going into the water, but really want to learn to swim. What would you do?Buy scuba gear and head off to the tropics diving into mile deep water? NO! Your more likely going to buy a bathing suit and just sit by the pool and not go in the water. Maybe run through a sprinkler like a little kid. The next visit, you dangle your feet into the water. The next time you step into the pool using the ladder. The next time you walk around the pool holding onto the edge. (Some people stay at this stage their whole lives and never get the opportunity to snorkel and see the beauty of thousands of tropical colorful fish up close in life.)The next time you step a few feet into the shallow side and bob up and down. The next time you walk around the shallow section with knees bent so that the water is up to your shoulders. If you feel afraid, you stand up.The next time, you hold your breath and bob once under water. The next time you bob a few more times. Guess what? You haven't even begun to swim.... Here's the thing. We don't expect a beginner to dive into the pool and swim a few laps. Do we? When it comes to art we seem to want to skip the whole beginner's stage of learning. When you were a kid it was fun and no one laughed if you fell. Somehow we get hard on ourselves and self-conscious so we avoid feeling uncomfortable.When a child learns a language, they make mistakes and just keep going. When an adult learns a new language or skill, they hesitate...
Just know that you need to begin small. Go to the library and get one "how to" book. Just look at it. Go to a one day workshop at a community center and arrange flowers instead of draw. Get a magazine and cut out photos and make a collage. Add in some crayon drawing. Practice shading a gradation from light to dark with an ebony pencil. Cut out shapes and arrange them into an image and then glue it down. Get a stamp pad and use your finger print as a starter to draw animals. Add some ears, whiskers, eyes, etc. Make a gradation from light to dark using only your finger prints. Get a can of shaving cream and draw on the counter top. Wipe it away and it's gone. Collect sticks from the yard and arrange them into something. Copy an Andy Goldsworthy while your at it. Get an unwrapped crayon or flat rectangular unwrapped pencil (from the art store) and large sheet of paper or even typing paper. Place the paper over a texture or pattern and rub the crayon/flat ebony to make an image. Try making a picture using only rubbings. Just play around and have fun.
One thing I may add is your PBS station - see if they have any art programs on. In Calgary, we get KSPS which runs out of Spokane, I believe - and right now they have a few artists over the week demonstrating art. One of them is Jerry Yarnell who works with acrylics, and over two ? days he is completing a painting from start to finish in real time - you see all he does - (I watched the first part a day ago, and it was quite interesting). This is quite passive, but it might help you appreciate that you can do this too. In the end you really have to grab the bull by the horns.
One thing I have done in the past is to watch people exercising on TV - I didn't firm up one muscle or drop one pound doing this - it may be hard but it's all in the doing that you get to where are would like to be - I tell myself this often. ;)
If you can tie your shoe, you can paint a simple landscape. If you turn your quest into fun rather than a challenge, you will ride the waves of success and enjoyment very easily.
See if there are any art societies or clubs in your area and join them. You are computer literate so you can look there, plus ask at local art or craft stores or town halls. People often paint together and often have demonstrations. Most art stores have demonstrations too. On-line you tube has thousands of art videos. Jerrys, Blick and Utrecht do as well and your local libraries have tons of art books - all free!
Totally forget self-assessment and enjoy the process of learning and doing. The rest will come easily and it will be fun. But it's more fun and inspiring if you socialize with clubs etc. You learned how to use the computer and found this site and are able to post your inquiry. You have every skill you need to enter into the world of painting.
This entire web site is filled with people who enjoy art and are always in a state of learning more and sharing experiences. If you keep that attitude paramount and not "how good am I ?" it will be fun and easy.
The fear thing rears its head on a regular basis! As soon as I think I am pretty hot I realize that another demension has come to my awareness and now I need to stretch my artistic muscles to master that. But it sure never gets boring. I keep a journal of my thoughts concerning art. Recently I have begun a new interest in landscape painting which I thought was boring before. Now I am all about the light and how it dances all over the landscape. Also, I am doing lots of protraits and have discovered that I really need to exercise my drawing skills, of the human body and face! That is scary! My website: www.jrobertsonwatercolor.vpweb.com Thanks for dropping by!!!
Both of your "posts" were so pure and to the point. Totally hit every angle any person could be coming from. Your writing is "humble" "thoughtful" "sincere"..." truthfull"!! It's refreshing and caused me great encouragement and "what am I waiting on?"
Blessings to you , you "are" a blessing in writing.
Thank you Ann, I'm really glad you were encouraged by my ramblings. :-) Blessings to you too, and your painting experience!
I want to thank everyone for their great posts here. I'm happy to say that I finally just stopped thinking and started painting and have found it extremely rewarding. One of my sons even said, "I didn't expect you to be able to paint that well." I said, "Neither did I!" I am enjoying it immensely now that I've started. I have also read a couple of the books mentioned here -- The Artist's Way and Landscape Painting by Mitchell Albala. Both are inspirational and instructive. So once again, thank you to everyone here whose kind and thoughtful words helped me get started.
Kathryn, that is so great to hear!