Self taught

Iain

2 eyes.
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1,847
Thank you, Thank you, Artyczar. As to visual art, something MJP said in his podcasts gave me the permission to be myself, to see art as a purely visual thing without an elaborate backstory. So, he is partly responsible for my work. You could praise or blame him for me. 😁
 

Iain

2 eyes.
Messages
1,847
Like most children I drew. I drew not for drawing's sake, but as a means to express things that were of interest. And what was of interest to a young boy but physical strength? And so we drew the torsos of muscular men: biceps, triceps, forearms and the like.

I could imagine my father, upon discovering my drawings of the Male physique, jumping to conclusions. "Elizabeth, see what our boy has been up to!" My mother would look and not see the implications. "Our son is a..." "Yes, John?" "...he's a child prodigy! He's been attempting to master anatomy in the Classical tradition! Phone the local paper!"

And thus began the downfall.
 

stlukesguild

Well-known member
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1,618
So I guess I'm the black sheep here. I had 5 years of Art School and probably a good 40 or 50 semester hours after Art School in drawing, painting, ceramics, and art history. In spite of that... in many ways, I feel "self-taught". I remember reading a quote by Picasso in which he suggested that Modern Art... unlike the Art of the Old Masters... required almost every artist to be "self-taught"... or to invent his or her own visual language. I agree with this a good deal. Unless an artist follows in the tradition of academic "realism"... or academic abstraction/academic conceptualism... most artists are self-taught after Art School.
 

Artyczar

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Maybe you have to unlearn much of what academia teaches you in art school in order to start teaching yourself art, in terms of finding your own voice that is. Do you think that might be true? I'm not asking to provoke anything, I'm asking that as a serious possibility. Also, five years of art school, plus fifty semester hours is impressive, but so is thirty-five years of learning from every avenue one can glean from. I'm just saying one isn't "better" than the other, not that you were saying that. I think the point you were making was that you feel self taught despite your formal training. But there's something I personally wish I had from not being formally trained, and that is the confirmation one gets from teachers. That could have saved me literally years of mistakes, self-doubt, and much more. Also, art schools have a lot of tentacles that help students reach out into future resources. I'm not saying it was a leg up for you, but it is for many of the artists I have known: galleries, teaching jobs, curators, museums, exhibition opportunities, residencies (Skowhegan School of painting, Yaddo, McDowell, etc.), as well as grants and awards, etc. It's not easy to win the Guggenheim or a Pollock-Krasner without an MFA. All these things put you in the inner circle in the art world and being self-taught can almost count you out of it, or at least it generally did for the better part of my time on this planet. Being self-taught came into "fashion" in recent years, but that is just a trend for "young, fresh" faces.
 

stlukesguild

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1,618
Maybe you have to unlearn much of what academia teaches you in art school in order to start teaching yourself art, in terms of finding your own voice that is.

There is something to that... at least in my instance. What I learned of Art History and drawing the figure I held onto fiercely... but I dug into Art History with far more depth and breadth. I began to explore a wide range of contemporary art and to look at a lot of art that really wasn't part of my formal education: Indian, Persian, Islamic, and Japanese Art, illustration, posters, pulp fiction, pin-ups, Burlesque, comic books, etc... I played around with various approaches to oil painting, acrylics, collage, and assemblage. My experience teaching grade-school children led me to the recognition that my artistic direction might best follow my initial passions for art which were rooted in drawing... especially drawing the human figure. At the same time, I had an overwhelming love of color. This led me to pull out a lot of my drawings from Art School that were done in charcoal and pastel. I had pretty much no formal training in the use of pastel... so I just began to play and experiment with the media. I had no idea that almost no one had ever worked in pastel on the scale I was attempting. My decisions to add acrylic paint and then gold leaf into the mix were all the result of trial and error. I had one artist friend who was adamant that my approach to the use of pastel was wrong... and he set about to try to show me how pastel "should" be used. I was well aware of Degas' efforts in pastel. He had long been a favorite artist. He inspired me to the use of a rough or weathered surface...

three-dancers-yellow-skirts-blue-blouses.700.jpg


But I employed this in my own manner. I also learned a good deal about the use of pastel from the pastel drawings from Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo artists:

met-6-2.700.jpg


467px-IBD_IB1.befunky.jpg


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I also absorbed ideas from Japanese Art especially the sinuous line, the use of black, and the embrace of the flat graphic image.

Utamaro-Okita.jpg


From Persian and Islamic Art (as well as Byzantine mosaics) I was led to a love of pattern:

0b9f15df76496719061f5c13f23050f7.med.jpg


And ultimately, I could not help but recognize two common elements among the work of a good many of my favorite artists: the Japanese screen painters, the Persian and Islamic painters of illuminated manuscripts, early Italian Renaissance painters, Byzantine mosaics, Gustav Klimt, and Alphonse Mucha...

BeFunky_Annunciation.sm.jpg


And that was the use of gold leaf and the decorative elements. Again, a good number of my artist friends thought that my use of gold leaf and my unabashed love of the decorative were incompatible with serious contemporary art. One of my closest artist friends thought I had completely lost my mind when I painted two Catwomen with golden halos in my painting Tyger Tyger:

BeFunky_Tyger Tyger- Small.jpg


But I think this led me to a realization that whether the work was "good" or "bad" it was something unique... something that was really my own.
 

Artyczar

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It's so nice to read about how you got to where you are now. I wish I could write a short synopsis like this and make it seem as clear as this. All the decisions along the way seem/felt purposeful, yet maybe I fell accidentally into to each of them. Or maybe it was a bit of both. In any case, I like how you were able to sum up your history. It inspires me to write something a little more legible about myself some time. Maybe I will. Depends on the day. In any case, thanks. :)
 

stlukesguild

Well-known member
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In my final year of art school I had a class with a teacher who I really disliked and who disliked me... but I greatly appreciate one assignment he gave to all of us. We were required to put on a slide presentation of our history as artists. Not only did this force us to learn how to take slides of art using proper lighting, film speed, etc... (I learned how to photograph works under glass without any glare or reflection)... but we were also led to look at our own work as far back as we could go and present a linear narrative. Many of us included our grade-school work. I remember including this painting from Kindergarten:

Tyger.JPG


I was led to think back to how I always loved drawing... and saturated color... probably inspired by my pre-adolecent love of comic books. I actually hated painting when I was a grade school student because I felt I had less control. I came to love painting... and oil paint... when I started art school and started going to the art museums and realizing just how big many paintings were... and how freely the paint was applied. I got quite good at handling oil paint... and I still love the medium... even love how it smells... but I ended up sticking with the mixed media pastel/acrylic/gold leaf mix because it was there that I really developed my own artistic vocabulary.

I think that art school experience combined with all my experiences (formal and post-art school) in art historical writing helped in writing about my own work. It also led me to think more in art historical terms... in terms of my influences... as opposed to the sort of artist statements I read far too often that seem to be simply regurgitating the sort of writing that dominates a lot of art criticism and art theory. Take this statement from the Arty Bollocks Artist's Statement Generator:

My work explores the relationship between Pre-raphaelite tenets and life as performance. With influences as diverse as Munch and Buckminster Fuller, new tensions are created from both constructed and discovered discourse.

Ever since I was a pre-adolescent I have been fascinated by the endless oscillation of the mind. What starts out as contemplation soon becomes finessed into a hegemony of temptation, leaving only a sense of decadence and the prospect of a new reality.

As shimmering forms become clarified through frantic and diverse practice, the viewer is left with a testament to the edges of our culture.

😲 :LOL:
 
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john

Active member
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188
I wonder if those cave painters were self taught. Maybe Gorf watched Hummphh and learned how to spray berry juice. But then, who taught Gorf?
 

Artyczar

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Looking back on this and reading that artist statement that was generated from Art Bollocks makes me wonder if my statement sounds like BS. I have two different artist statements on my website. One is more like a 1st person story, a bit longer, and it's in plain English. The other, which is just linked to the bottom of that page, is more "professional," like for galleries, etc., which may read like the generator, but I sure hope it doesn't? Maybe I should change it. What do you think?:

In my art, I am looking for answers, evolving and discovering. I am inspired by the materials I work in. I am most interested in themes that tell a story and love working in oil paint because the pigments are so vibrant. They seem to stay alive, moving and swirling forever as if they are entities in and of themselves.

My compositions begin as crude, existential, or ambiguous ideas that commingle with the absurd. I have a playful imagination and aim to inspire others with my sense of humor, but ultimately prefer to leave viewers with their own interpretations.

I often mix media by adding pattern paper, fabric, or embroidery to my surfaces. I also do installations, draw on clothing patterns and maps, sew on my canvases, use watercolors, and make Artist's books too. I especially like hand-crafted things with small details.

Making art is a personal redemption for me--a methodical, visionary activity I use to distract myself from a damaged past to create new futures. I have survived abuse and trauma. I live with physical disabilities and complex mental illness. Art is how I connect to my community, my Jewish ancestry, and the universe. Sometimes, it is a struggle and a risk, like walking on the edges of tall buildings. But I wouldn't trade it for anything.
 

Artyczar

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Thanks guys. Yes Iain. That's weird. Maybe it's just more aesthetic on the site?
 
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