A: Yes. But do you really need one?
At times I wish someone had sat me down, back in the day, and taught me stuff – like how to use watercolour “properly”, or the best way to survive in an art world that’s bigger on the inside. It would have made my journey much easier.
But, is easier the best option?
My own practice was formed in the dusty isolation of Western Queensland. When I first started painting there were no art teachers in our town, nor any within cooee. This was before the internet, so no You-Tube. We barely had ABC radio!
I learnt, instead, by doing.
Each time I painted a picture, I learnt more about painting pictures. Each mistake was a blessing. Each artwork completed was one more step to the place I am now… still taking steps. Two thousand paintings, thirty years later, I am competent and experienced, but I’m still learning. I’ve learnt that if I wobble, it takes longer, but makes for a richer journey. I’ve learnt to trust the process, even if it’s not always efficient.
Teachers are important.
I’m the artist I am now because of the generosity of those mentors I’ve worked with over the years, especially since I left the bush.
But no matter how good your teacher is, it’s what you do with their input that’s vital.
Take what they’ve taught and sift through it. Be selective. If you’ve decided you want to make art, you’re half way there. Trust that you already know how to take the steps you need. It’s your own creative story you’re telling. No-one else can do it quite the way you can.
How to make art if you don’t know how to?
- Just start. Grab a bit of gear. Find some time, some space. Start. Repeat. Then repeat again.
- Find a teacher that suits you Be careful of helicopter teaching. Learn to question, research (especially now there’s the internet), experiment.
- Give yourself permission to be a learner Allocate a certain amount of time, money or materials to spend on the experience of learning before you judge your results.
- Don’t be in a hurry to exhibit, or decide what your “style” is. Formative years are the fun times. If you like keeping records do so, if not that’s fine too. Date your work so you can see how far you’ve come.
- Spend time at the easel. You can’t learn to paint without it. And by paint, I mean draw, sculpt, write, embroider or any of the art and craft forms I’ve spoken about previously. All are grist to the creative mill.
- Enjoy the journey. It is the destination.