There are artists that were educated at some of the most prestigious art school in the world, of which it fills me green with envy. And then there are artists that are self-taught- basically they learned to draw and paint by copying from other artists or from do-it-yourself art books, or simply just following their own gut instincts. Now I come to believe there is no right or wrong way to become an artist. And there are perks and quirks to both methods described above. Let me tell you what I know.
If you were to go to a school to get educated in the field of arts, you would be presented with ample classes and courses to fill your curiosity and home your skills. And they would of course be taught by professors who are artists themselves. And to build a relationship with these pros as well as your fellow classmates allows you opportunities in and after school to make formidable connections, build your resume and portfolio and get your right foot in the doorway to the most coveted places in the galleries or museums or even corporate patronage. On the other hand, to be a Luddite and skipping the social scene of the classroom and setting out on your own could turn out to be a long, lonely, and difficult road, and you wouldn’t be enticed into studying stuff they teach in school (and you’d only take those courses because if you don’t you can’t graduate. That’s motivation enough). And as self taught artist you are limited by what you have; finding a decent space to work can be tough especially if you don’t have money. You’d have resort to working from your dads garage that’s already full of household junk, or at a small table in the corner of a noisy Starbucks, or, like sometimes I do, under the bridge of a dried up ravine where it reeks of mold and trash and human feces. Yep, my kind of place to work: after all art along is a dirty business. If you we to school there would be plenty of workspaces with all the equipments and resources provided, along with words of encouragement and advices from teachers and peers. You can’t really get any kind words from a squawking crane drinking off the puddle of water in the ravine.
On the contrary, going to school, especially if it’s a world-class history infused institution like England’s Royal Academy of the Arts or America’s majestic Harvard University, it take lots of money. Lots and lots of money. And those private art schools can cost you what it costs to buy a single-family house these days. You’d have to be born a Trump brood or win the ridiculous Powerball jackpot to afford a comfortable education in art making. I went to a public state u here in California, where the cost is considerably cheaper but their art program nevertheless decent. Luckily for selfies money is not a problem and they are worry free to explore, experiment, screw up, and create masterpieces. Another problem with school is you might end up with a really douchey professor who insist you follow his doctrines and make you get down on your knees and cry and feel utterly worthless. I remember a professor in the life painting class that scrutinize every nook and cranny of wrongs I was making on painting the right flesh tone and the perfect light and shadow palettes. And let’s not forget when you are in school before you can get into the fun part of painting and drawing you have to first learn the basics-color wheel, values, forms, lines, blah blah blah- something you probably already learned in hot grade school art sessions. Bottom line: boooring.
None of that matters for selfies, they get to dive in and have fun.
Of course I’m not discrediting a proper art education, it is important to know those boring stuff. But to get absorbed into the rules and academics becomes a stumbling block. I recall spending days and hours working with blood sweat and tears on a single painting trying to get the forms, values, and colors right as I learned it. After years of struggle with that I got tired of moving nowhere with the current situation and I said “**** this!” And I threw aside all the textbooks and started drawing purely from my gut. And boy I never felt so liberated.
Making art is about being yourself. It doesn’t matter what others say about it, what you draw or paint comes from your own heart. And that’s what make art so special.
So to school or not to school…its up to you.
DO YOUUU UNDERSTAAAND A WOOORD THATS COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH???
-Carter to Lee in Rush Hour
As I immerse myself into a gooey icky mess of paints and sprays ( and a sweet burning scents of weed that some kids are blowing nearby ) I take a moment to step back and observe the work of my hands. And it hits me: I don’t know what the hell in doing.
Before I felt like I had it all figured out; I had clear images of what I wanted to create and the story behind it that I want to convey with brushes and paints. But when it came down to actually making it a reality, conflicts settle in. Things aren’t coming out quite as I imagined it, and instead I find this board filled with wild scribbles and splatters and rough strokes and I’m trying to find where to make the next mark. And I’m having flood of doubts in my brain; am I doing the right thing? Am I getting the message clear? Do I even know what I’m doing??
Similarly I’m walking around a gallery and observing the works of other artists. And there are about half of the works on the wall I got no clue what it’s supposed to say. And I ask myself how the hello do you call this piece of junk a masterpiece of art? How did it ever get the attention it doesn’t deserve?
I am an artist, or am I? I struggle with this question constantly as I’m staring down at the random mess of artwork I’ve created or at other peoples art and cannot understand it. If I don’t understand my own art, much less other artists’ work, how can I truly be an artist?
But then I remember the day when I made the undying pledge to make life with the gift that God has given me. And I hear that famous Nike slogan: Just Do It!
Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Nor does it run with the program the way you plan it. Or yet, there is no RIGHT or WRONG answers to everything. There’s no point in wasting precious time trying to figure out everything. You just have to leave it to the Big Guy Above, trust your gut, sit down, and draw.
Just Do It. And eventually everything will fall into place
Here is an inspiring article one should read about how we can use our gift of creating to serve our one and only God, himself the Great Creator.
It was a fortunate luck that I ran across this article, as I myself was contemplating how I could use this gift of art to serve. To think I had at one point tried to abandon this gift to pursue other interests in my early years. Looking back I realized how many times God had to push me back on this track that I now stand, and I am thankful for it, otherwise my life would have been a fantastic mess. I probably have talked about this in my previous Random Thoughts, if you haven’t read them already you can easily find it in the Categories section from the drop-down menu in the right column of this blog. Maybe I’ll tell the story in greater detail some other time.
Have a great weekend. God Bless you, and the people of Paris (yes they’ve been through rough day).
Many times I have heard that to be a successful artist one must be locked away in his/her studio and make art nonstop. At times it sounds pretty laborious, and it is. I admit I only work few hours on Fridays on my art making and majority of other times committed to house chores and caring for my sick mother, and I cherish those few hours I get to myself for the week. But sometimes my brain just freezes midway through the paint or even yet, just as soon as I set my eyes down on the blank drawing board and I find myself dozing into the dreamland. I often scold myself for wasting the precious time and energy and wonder if I really do have what it takes to be a professional artist(I haven’t worked a decent job in years since ’10 and pretty much given up any prospects of me ever holding a real job).
But recently I read an article on the art magazine JUXTAPOZ titled “The Art of Not Making Art” and it states that it’s OK to not be making art 24/7 when one does not have the energy to do so, and sometimes a little R&R spent any way you wish is actually good for your body mind and soul. I find that quite assuring.
Yes, there were times on Fridays that I just don’t feel like lifting a pencil or getting down and dirty with the paint, and lately it’s just been too hot that I don’t want to move. I loathe hot weather, especially if it makes you sticky. Yuck.
So what do I do? How do I relieve myself of the stress piled up during the week and give my mind and body a reboot of fresh energy and rekindle my creative furnace? Oh, Let me count the ways…
1. Surf the web on my IPod Touch or laptop if I choose to bring it with me, hanging out at wifi-friendly places like McDonalds or Kinkos and enjoy the crisp air conditioned room especially on hot days
2. Drive down the road aimlessly until I see something cool and worth stopping and checking out for.
3. Think of some cool spot I’ve never been and be willing to fight through the traffic for it( as you can see from my Field Trip Day posts).
4. Go to a museum and browse the latest exhibition in town. I usually go to Bowers in Santa Ana since it’s closer to home. They often have pretty neat stuff.
5. Rack up points or blow away zombie heads at either D&B or Round One Bowling in Lakewood. This I’ve been doing a whole lot of, and I’ve accumulated over 35,000 points from both places. What I’ll do with them I’ll let you know later.
6. Window shop around nearby malls such as Cerritos or Lakewood or Buena Park. At times I’m almost tempted to go play dress up at Windsor Fashions or Nordstrom and the like. Afterwards I’d grab either a Wetzel Dog or pizza at the food court.
7. Once or twice I’ve gone to a beach and walked around barefoot on the hot sands and occasionally dip them in the salty waters. That was pretty relaxing.
8. Sit down and just doodle mindlessly on my notebook, either notes or thumbnails or cartoony figures.
9. I used to Netflix away watching all these movies and Tv shows (even some “really really bad” ones) but I’ve since cancelled the subscription as I was trying to cut down on my budget
10. Dabble in non-art related hobbies like picking weeds in the backyard or, the latest venture I’ve picked up, making some blings with beads and knots.
That about sums it up. And I will say, they do lead to unexpected discoveries and field my motivation to keep making art. And I’m also learning something new about myself every day, some good, some not so much.
Not making art is indeed an art…
Positive thinking…that’s the key
Do you want more better finances, success, health, love or happiness? There is a way to bring these into your life. There are certain principals in the Bible that people have used for thousands of years to bring these good things. Jesus said faith is key to receiving good things.
Faith starts in the mind, so to achieve success, train your mind to activate the power you need for success in these areas. Psychologists have said for many years that your attitude, your confidence that you can achieve a goal is the most important thing towards achieving it. A famous study by a Yale professor named Rosenthal demonstrated that when teachers believed their students were top achievers, they became better students just because of the teachers faith in them. You must have faith in yourself.
Many famous athletes, inventors, businessmen, etc. talk about the power of confidence. During the…
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