Recently I posted a workshop video on facebook. The first comment I received was something like, “Do you really think this helps. I think we need to pay our dues.” My first thought was that this was an individual who thinks he is self-taught and wears it as a badge of pride. He may think education will stifle his self expression. Now, you may disagree here, but I don’t believe any of us are self-taught and why would you want to be.
We are living in a world which is inundated with images, especially with the advent of Facebook. It is up to each of us how much we want to take in and absorb. To me (and this may be another disagreement), I believe that artistic talent is like any other attribute someone may have. We all have a gift or propensity toward something and it is to some degree inherited. Some families have mathmeticians and some have artists. It is what we do with that gift. Any other profession hones their skills. Even though a bookkeeper is good at numbers, that doesn’t mean they don’t need to go to school or at least learn their profession from a mentor. No one comes out of high school with all the skills for their given profession. Art is no different.
However you gain that education is a self-directed path. You decide the best learning experience for yourself. Being an artist is different in that there are no clear guidelines to being a professional, which is good. We aren’t people who ordinarily like to be fit into a box. And often our way of absorbing an education is different that the “norm”.
You may disagree with me again and say that art is an individual expression which education will stifle. Yes, it is individual and it is your expression. But, are you sure that you are expressing yourself clearly to the audience that you want? Can you say what you want in a more direct, clear or concise fashion? I believe that educating yourself will in the end give you a better voice in the art world.
There are hundreds of years of art history. I don’t understand why anyone would want to ignore that history and I say, that it can’t be ignored. We live with it all around us. Using that history as a learning tool will add to the dimension of our art. Why waste time trying to relearn it. Learn what has been done before us and build on it. Add your own voice to that history.
As with any education, we are influenced by our teachers and often project their ideas instead of our own. At least, in the beginning. But, as we gain more knowledge and confidence in our work and ourselves, we begin to find more of who we are. We become our own unique selves with all that history and influence behind our work. We are able to communicate with our audience in a concise and clear voice through our artwork.
Paying your dues through mileage with the brush is definitely important, but take the road in the right direction. Self-direct your education. Learn what has been taught before us and begin to build on that foundation.
Should we just paint and pay our dues or should we take workshops and educate ourselves?