What is the ONE BIG IDEA – that HIDDEN SECRET, you need to know, in order to start that mysterious journey from being a sometime sketcher, to a skilled artist. It has nothing to do with shaky lines, or lots of rubbing out, or even lack of confidence, or not understanding colours, or problems with perspective.
Sure – these will all need to be mastered step by step, little by little, but what is the one big thing that sets apart beginners work from skilled work.
I remember how infuriating it was when I started to draw and paint, I was so proud of my work, and just couldn’t understand why it didn’t appeal to the ‘more experienced’ members of our Art Club, and it failed to sell, time after time. I couldn’t see what I’d done wrong, It looked perfect to me, and my close friends all offered their congratulations, telling me how wonderful my work was.
Why wouldn’t anyone tell me the honest truth? Perhaps they were afraid to put me off art, perhaps they didn’t want to lose their ‘artistic’ friend, they didn’t want to cause a scene, maybe they didn’t want to be seen as critical.
Perhaps I never asked the Question?
Well now, many years later, I find myself in the position of ‘a more experienced’ art club member, having worked hard to acquire the skills, little by little, step by step, I am now able, but ‘not so willing’ to offer my critique. I now understand why no one wanted to tell me what I was doing wrong. Sure – If I am asked a direct question – I will answer it as helpfully and truthfully as I can. After all, what learners need – is to know the next step. Which one big issue needs their attention. This is THE HIDDEN SECRET.
I was actually incredibly lucky, and I did have one critic, who knew exactly what was wrong, I would e-mail all my sketches and paintings, one at a time, to my mother, an experienced art teacher, who had been the Head of Art at a large school, for many years. She was always honest with me, because she knew I wanted the truth spelled out clearly.
Sometimes it was brutal, but on every occasion, after a few minutes digesting her words of wisdom, I knew she was right. She could see and understand my problems. The more I tried, and subjected myself to critique, the better my work became, till eventually, I rarely received ‘brutal’ critiques.
So to sum up the HIDDEN SECRET is, to find an experienced artist or art teacher who you can trust and respect as a mentor, someone who will be honest with you, even if its brutal. You will need to ask the Question, clearly, What have I done wrong here? What one big area or thing should I work on? ie: drawing skills, tonal values, composition, colour choices, etc. then go away and learn all you can about the problem area, look for help on You Tube, and Google, if you don’t understand, go back and ask the question again, and practice over and over again until your mentor gives you your next problem area to work on.
If you find the right mentor and ask them the right question, they will be glad to help you.
You can forget all the books and DVD’s – they have far too much info in them. You just need one big thing or idea, to work on. Not a whole book full! So go out there, join your local art group, and ask questions, and keep asking questions, until you find your mentor. Good Luck!
Here’s a blog you can learn a huge amount from, by in inspirational and motivational artist. Adebanji Alade Enjoy!
News from the Studio
My lack of regular blog articles is not due to idleness, its due to lack of spare time, I know that’s no excuse, but here’s what I’ve been up to, I’ve begun oil painting, and have created nearly twenty 10″ x 12″ oil paintings on board, mainly working out doors on location, ‘en plein air’ as the French say. My pochade box is serving me well, and I have already modified it to make it easier to use. I have a lot to learn so I have found my mentor, (see article above), who has a wealth of ‘plein air’ painting experience, and likes to go out frequently. I have also been experimenting with larger watercolours using 1/2 imperial size paper ( 15″ x 22″) usually rough surface, 200 or 300 lbs in weight. I am loving this experimentation, both in oils and watercolours, and look forward to a busy summer of painting ahead.
Also I’ve been planning for my Open Studio, which will happen here on August 13th & 14th, 20th & 21st, 27th, 28th & 29th. More details in my next blog post. Don’t miss it, put your e-mail address in the box to get my posts in your inbox.
Also click here for a list of my exhibitions in 2016