Why you shouldn’t listen to me!
I spend quite a lot of time – probably too much – reading other artists’ blogs and transcripts to their videos (I rarely listen to them talking, they take up too much precious time and I can read quicker than I can listen!)
And one thing I would like to share with you is the best piece of advice that I have ever given anyone about learning to paint:
Don’t listen to anyone else’s opinion!
Now I know I have to explain what I mean by that crazy statement. The internet is FULL TO BURSTING with other people’s opinions. You can’t spend a minute of any day without being compelled to absorb, evaluate, accept or reject someone else’s thinking process. Or, worse still, the “thoughts” of a computer in the guise of Artificial Intelligence.
Case in point: I have just read an article (well, it was a transcript actually of a video) by a fellow artist, describing her top ten mistakes made by other people in watercolor painting. I cannot agree with one single one of those mistakes! They do not correlate with my own experience, nor with what I know of other painters’ experiences.
That doesn’t mean she’s wrong, that just means she sees things differently to me. If I were to compile a list of the ten most commonly made mistakes I would start off by saying there’s no such thing as a mistake in art first of all, and then I would say that the following “actions” or “lack of actions” are likely to cause frustration in the artist.
- Not painting often enough. Painting daily for 10 minutes is better than weekly for an hour.
- Trying to paint from photographs. Very difficult to get a good result for a beginner.
- Trying to copy art from Pinterest etc. that unbeknownst to you is created digitally. Almost impossible to do.
- Using EXCLUSIVELY small brushes, small pans of paint and small pieces of paper. Small scale is meant for outdoor sketching.
- Using paper that is too expensive for you to be willing to throw it away. You need to be liberal with paper.
- Using paper that is intended for different types of art than what you do. Some good paper is too absorbent for beginners.
- Not believing in the need to be able to draw before you paint. Even in this modern age some kind of drawing is essential.
- Thinking that the more supplies you have the better your art will be. More likely, too many supplies will inhibit you.
- Thinking that there are rules, and that if you learn them you will become a better painter. My rule is that rules are made to be broken.
Now, there are only nine in this list, not ten, because just as I finished writing this article my computer programme crashed and deleted the final hundred words I’d written. Those of you who have ever written anything online will know what that does to your head. I cannot remember number ten. So I will leave it out. (I have now vowed to never ever write another word online! …searching for a typewriter…)
So as I say, don’t pay any attention to me! Find a teacher you can relate to, preferably in person but if that’s not possible, then choose one from YouTube. Follow their advice or better still deliberately ignore it, and do your best to follow your own lights on your art journey. You can expect setbacks along the way, but know that you are following in the footsteps of Turner and Van Gogh, and that it’s all worthwhile.