Self taught

Artyczar

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Had never heard the term "Outsider Art". What was I missing? Hmm. Seems the human tendency to label, categorize and explain things has endless variation.

Anyway, Arty, I use the term "argument" not as a pejorative denoting hostility; rather the way we did in debate, as merely your position. Your opinion as you term it. "Self-taught" is anything but confined to art. It has a meaning in the general vernacular as relating to someone who learns a skill largely without formal instruction. Can be applied to athletics, chemistry, art, needlepoint....

Almost NOBODY today can claim to be "naive" (not "naif" as in art terms) about art totally. We do not live in the paleolithic, when art was invented and rare. We live surrounded by examples of art: pictures in many forms, logos, ads, painted objects, etc. We all see art all the time; our environment is loaded with it. Whether one has taken the time to try to understand it may be more to the point. But if done largely on your own, that fits my personal definition of "self-taught". YMMV.

I do not take offense at someone claiming to be an "artist", nor would I take offense (even if I would highly doubt) one claiming to be an abstract artist when painting photo-realism or any of the other pretty obvious contradictions. Neither do I take offense at someone claiming not to be an artist, because they feel they are an amateur or not good enough or create art forms that don't conform. We define ourselves, even as others always define us. Just the way of the world.

Easy to spend endless hours debating such points without having any appreciable effect on creation (either in art terms or the cosmos), IMO.
Hi, I'm sorry I missed this this week. I've been a little crazy (as usual)!

I'm glad you got some of those definitions out of Raw Vision, as they are a long-time leading publication on all these kinds of genres and fall under the umbrella of general Art Brut.

Well, not almost nobody can claim to be complete naïve. There is art in mental institutions, people who have lived extremely sheltered lives, people who have had almost no exposure to the internet that live in the south, or Appalachia, or places like this (extreme poverty). Sure, they can be exposed to advertisements of some kind, but not a museum, or famous artists. They don't have formal art context. These are the real Outsiders and their work is extraordinary.

Believe it or not, not just people who have learned art on YouTube or what have you, but art college grads have claimed to be Outsider artists. It's because they paint in a primitive style. But they are certainly not Outsiders. Of course, as you have pointed out, they couldn't be naïve.

Anyway, I also don't want to split hairs or anything, and I never took a debate class, so I also didn't understand your definition of "argument," but I do now! ;)

However, I wanted to make sure to clear up that I wasn't really "offended" about people using the self-taught label when I said it was a pet-peeve. I think that means a "continual annoyance" or "irritation." And it's only because of what I had said previously about the world I am working in/have been climbing my way up in. It is irritating to be treated "less than" because I am/was self-taught and do not have an MFA, yet I have more experience than many of my peers that do have that education.

I am telling you, in the contemporary art world, it's already cut-throat, let alone having had this holding me back and having to "prove" myself time and time again. And because "self-taught" later became popularized after I'd worked 20 years with that prejudice against me, that would equal a "pet-peeve" for anyone. Don't you think?

And I agree that in general, the self-taught idea can be YMMV. We can at least come to a general agreement. That's a good acronym!
 

Artyczar

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I feel as though we might be approaching a break in the definition of self taught where no one who seeks to improve via external means is no longer self-taught, which seems a little extreme and gatekeep-y to me. I feel like if you have no formal education, but have taken the time to seek out ways to improve and learn how to create art independently then that would be enough to be "self-taught". I absolutely consider people who learned via Bob Ross, for example, to be self-taught because they, again, have no formal feedback system for their work. They are just using his show as a self-education proxy to learn what they might have otherwise been unable to learn completely isolated from art or other artists.

All of that said, I think that this is the healthy sort of debate I'm happy to see on an art forum :) It is interesting to see how artists perceive their backgrounds and skillsets and how they interpret that in the greater forum of art as a whole.
Gate-keepy is right rodhlann! You wouldn't believe how the "experts" and "authorities" in this field conduct themselves in terms of keeping all this shit "pure" and strict.

There is an Outsider Art Fair in NYC every year in February. It's extremely important in this field. It's curated and they only let certain galleries and artists in that thing. They vet everyone based on who they feel are under the umbrella of these definitions. They are like fundamentalists! It's crazy.

In London, an artist named Albert Louden, and incredible Outsider artist (absolutely beautiful paintings!) who lived in squalor and was quite an eccentric character, much like Henry Darger, was "discovered" and had his paintings bought up for, of course, close to nothing. Then they were resold in the galleries for 1000% and more.

Well Louden caught wind of it and decided to educate himself about how the art world worked. He decided to wheel and deal his art for fair prices. The "gate-keepers" then took his proverbial Outsider badge away and banned him from the Fair and all the primitive galleries--saying he was no longer an Outsider. Outsider art collectors (and they are specific, hence this being a genre unto its own) stopped buying his work because the "experts" advised them not to.

I'm sure, now that the field has loosened up a bit, he doesn't have too much of a problem selling across all genres.
 

rodhlann

Well-known member
Messages
101
Gate-keepy is right rodhlann! You wouldn't believe how the "experts" and "authorities" in this field conduct themselves in terms of keeping all this shit "pure" and strict.

There is an Outsider Art Fair in NYC every year in February. It's extremely important in this field. It's curated and they only let certain galleries and artists in that thing. They vet everyone based on who they feel are under the umbrella of these definitions. They are like fundamentalists! It's crazy.

In London, an artist named Albert Louden, and incredible Outsider artist (absolutely beautiful paintings!) who lived in squalor and was quite an eccentric character, much like Henry Darger, was "discovered" and had his paintings bought up for, of course, close to nothing. Then they were resold in the galleries for 1000% and more.

Well Louden caught wind of it and decided to educate himself about how the art world worked. He decided to wheel and deal his art for fair prices. The "gate-keepers" then took his proverbial Outsider badge away and banned him from the Fair and all the primitive galleries--saying he was no longer an Outsider. Outsider art collectors (and they are specific, hence this being a genre unto its own) stopped buying his work because the "experts" advised them not to.

I'm sure, now that the field has loosened up a bit, he doesn't have too much of a problem selling across all genres.
That's very interesting I had never heard of that! In truth I don't know very much at all about the Art World. I live in a bit of a bubble of my own creativity, as of now 😅 In truth this is the first time I've considered self taught or similar terms as labels instead of descriptors. Definitely an interesting topic!
 

Bartc

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350
Arty, what you describe has been around so long in the art market. That whole BS about the Salon in Paris refusing the Impressionists is the classic tale, and I'm sure you can add a hundred such unwarranted insults to artists from your own and others' more recent experience.

What frosts me is that our culture seems to take "struggling for your art" as a requirement, rather than as a description of a sad/bad situation. And how many art critics (pro and amateur) are there who can't really produce art themselves?

Sounds as though you did too much suffering only to be insulted at both ends of the marketing hype. Feel for you and anyone else in this situation.

I'm fortunate in that I don't have to sell my art, so I can just paint what I want when I want. I admit that the request to sell it can be affirming to me none-the-less. But if I had to live by it, I would probably scream. When I had my photography business decades ago I had no real trouble selling my work - that is, the plebian stuff, not the art. There was near zero market for photography as serious art in those days with the notable exceptions of the famous Ansel Adams or his ilk.
 

Artyczar

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Painting what (or making art) of which you want when you want, and being able to sell it is tricky. And I'm very lucky. However, it comes with a huge cost in that it's not a regular kind of income. Of course not. If I made art that was a demand, commissions of other people's direction, or what my gallery told me to make, I would never, ever be in the "business" of art. I would only do it for me. Because I do only do it for me, which is why I'm so lucky. But the first half of my life, I stayed true to this desire and struggled stubbornly. For this, I ate crackers and was under 100 pounds, could hardly pay my rent, and so forth. I've lived in my car for a bit. It was rough. But I managed. It's ok. I learned not to have minimal living expenses. That's basically how I do this. My expenses are mostly for art.
 

Bongo

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802
I refer to myself as a Painter. I make paintings. Artist is such a loaded/bloated term as to be near meaningless imo.

Up until about five years or so ago, I considered myself self-taught. I knew a lot about art, but as to the mechanics of painting, actually making a painting with brushes and paint on canvas that I learned almost entirely thru trial and error. Those "self-taught" years I consider basically wasted as I had a fool for an instructor(me). Or at the least great opportunities missed. I would be so much more a better painter if I had then, the kind of youtube help/instruction I have now. The help was available, I just didn't avail myself of it.

So I am a tube-taught painter with no formal training.
 

Bartc

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Messages
350
I refer to myself as a Painter. I make paintings. Artist is such a loaded/bloated term as to be near meaningless imo.

Up until about five years or so ago, I considered myself self-taught. I knew a lot about art, but as to the mechanics of painting, actually making a painting with brushes and paint on canvas that I learned almost entirely thru trial and error. Those "self-taught" years I consider basically wasted as I had a fool for an instructor(me). Or at the least great opportunities missed. I would be so much more a better painter if I had then, the kind of youtube help/instruction I have now. The help was available, I just didn't avail myself of it.

So I am a tube-taught painter with no formal training.
Love the "tube-taught" line!
 

AES

hi
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208
100% self taught/self-teaching, unless reading a lot and watching stupid amounts of YouTube counts as an education.
I did take a black and white photography class in college, but I failed it. Twice 😅
 

stlukesguild

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The book is, The Anxiety of Influence. I have not read it. Just liked the title. Like the titles, Fear and Trembling, and, The Sickness unto Death. There appears to be a common theme emerging 😁

Edit. I just looked it up and it was written by Harold Bloom. I have tried him before and found the writing "esoteric."


I never found Bloom to be "esoteric"... quite the opposite. He certainly shows none of the esoteric academic speech common to many literature critics. Bloom does assume, however, that most of his audience is well versed in the literary tradition of the West from the Bible through the Greeks and Romans, Dante, Cervantes, Shakespeare, on through Blake, T.S. Eliot, Joyce, and Borges.
 

Iain

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Bloom himself, later in life, opined the "esoteric" nature of his writing.
 

Artyczar

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What a nice answer.

I am, but I am also self-taught (self-educated) and never went to school. Not even much of grammar school! Nor had many educated influences. So, I had not heard of him. But, in my opinion, it's better late than never. And I have heard of him now.
 

stlukesguild

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I've been an obsessive reader and a bibliophile since I was a kid. I would say I was mostly self-taught with regard to literature until Art School where I took several classes on World Literature, Modern Literature, and non-Western literature. I was also exposed to a good deal of literary and art criticism at the time. Over the years, I participated in a number of literary discussion groups but never delved into it to the academic Ph.D. level where Bloom and other critics are more commonly read and discussed. The Western Canon was probably Bloom's biggest selling book, although his writings on Blake, Shelley, and The Anxiety of Influence seem to be more highly regarded in academic circles. The Western Canon instroduced me to writers such as Hart Crane, Fernando Pessoa, Italo Calvino, Walter Pater, Geoffrey Hill, José Saramago, Cormac McCarthy, Alejo Carpentier, Julio Cortázar, and many more. Bloom also led me to a greater appreciation of the Hebrew Bible, Shakespeare, Blake, and others. As a graduate of Yale, Cornell, and Cambridge and a professor at NYU and Yale, Bloom writes for a very well-read audience... but his writing is nowhere near as "esoteric" as some contemporary critics who write in a manner that is intentionally convoluted in a manner, one assumes, so as to keep out the "riff-raff". :rolleyes: More likely, one can't question a critic's assertions if one can't make sense of it and some of the literary criticism I have read can be far worse than most of the art criticism I have come upon. There was a period during which I considered going on to a Ph.D. in literature... but I was put off by the expectation that one specializes in some sort of minutia. I had acquaintances who had a passion for the broad realm of Western literature who realized they would almost certainly find it impossible to get work in such a field. Instead, they ended up focusing on Medieval Icelandic literature or some such area where there would be far less competition for posts at the university level. Even gaining such posts they found the expectations of "publish or perish" overwhelming. I read an essay some time ago on how figures such as T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Einstein, etc... all worked in jobs they weren't overly fond of... but which afforded them the time to daydream and develop their ideas.
 
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Artyczar

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That's interesting. I was a late bloomer on reading and missed out on a lot of fundamentals. I actually could hardly read at first skipping half and full years in very early years of school. I also had dyslexia and a weird form of synesthesia that effects how I see letters and numbers. I wound up slowly learning how to read at the public libraries with librarians who turned me onto different authors they thought I'd enjoy at that age (13-15). A lot of beat writers, at first. It wasn't until I was in my 20s when I started reading Steinbeck, Twain, or even Shakespear. I didn't read any art criticism or Art History until well after I was on the internet. I was definitely a very naive artist all before then. I did like to read, however. I was/am still just a slow reader having to overcome all those colors (and personalities, yes personalities) of the letters and numbers. It's frickin distracting.

The reasons I missed so much school is a complicated story: my parents were very unstable, and my brother and I were neglected. We moved at least 15 times before I even reached age 10. At every move, there was a new school to enroll in, and many times, they didn't even enroll us at all. We moved a lot because they broke up constantly (then got back together), and we'd bounce between them as they fought. Their relationship was beyond volatile. They didn't much care about parenting or care about what they were "supposed" to do with putting their kids in school. I most often stayed with my mom who was mentally ill, and she had no idea how to enroll me in school, let alone be a mom. Often, I missed full semesters. I'd fall so far behind, I'd just slipped through the cracks and really, no one noticed. Things were just different in the 70s. Plus, many traumatic things happened to me besides.

It wasn't really until I left home and got legally emancipated from them (right before I turned 15) that I did things for myself and educated myself, and still do. Maybe it's slower than most, but I do the best I can. I think, considering all my circumstances and history, I am doing pretty damn good. And it's only been up until recently that I'm able to give myself that long overdue acknowledgement. Now I'm almost too old to finally enjoy my life for what it is! 😆
 

john

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Ayin, you sure are doing damn good from where I sit. Way to pull yourself by the bootstraps. I know it probably hurts but it's inspirational.
 

Hermes2020

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Ayin, I can't begin to imagine what you went through as a child. Hearing your story makes me so grateful that my parents were supportive and gave me a stable environment.
 

Claude J Greengrass

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Self taught almost stopped me from painting.

First there was the summer of paint. Home from my first year at university, working the early shift at a mindless job and alone in the house until the parents arrived home about 5 or 6. Three or more hours with nothing to do but paint. Oil, acrylic which I hated then and am not too pleased with even today though it does serve a purpose and house paint: cheap and in quantity.

I painted or drew perhaps at most 10 pieces over the next 40 years. Then for some reason, I wanted to take a stained glass course, but I was on contract and my employer wouldn’t give me the 4 days off I needed for this course. Shortly thereafter I became a widower and quit my contracts in mid-term for the first and only time.

My return to artistic endeavours, after a very long hiatus, was via designing and building stained glass panels. Later, I also took up watercolour painting, hoping to boost my creative vision in the design of stained glass. Soon I was painting most of the time and not doing any stained glass work. During this time, I had a watercolour tutor but these classes mainly consisted of copying photographs of watercolour paintings which I quickly became bored with. All credit to Les my tutor: he did hear my plea for something a bit more challenging and he did try one exercise in creativity and had as near to a classroom revolt as is possible in a genteel painting circle composed of mainly retired matrons. I continued to study with Les for the experience and he helped me to broaden my skills and techniques but I wanted more.

I wanted to know how a master painter could look across the Thames at Westminster and paint an atmospheric masterpiece whereas all I 'saw' was Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. I continued to study and paint and eventually found a copy of Robert Wade's “Painting More Than the Eye Can See” and with his helpful words I began to see how it is possible to see with an artistic eye. Three Wade books later and I had some answers but I also had more questions. I can't recall the linkage between author/painters, but over the next year or so, I 'discovered' Frank Webb, Tony Couch, John Lovett, Edgar Whitney, Ian Roberts, and Rex Brandt.

Ian Roberts' “Mastering Composition” is the only book I've found that provided a clear and usable (for me) framework for visual composition. Before the first chapter of his book, he defines “What is Composition”. After reading those two pages, I knew I now had a framework for composition that I understood and could apply to my paintings. The proverbial light bulb was lit. This is where I first started to understand visual composition.

When I went back and reviewed Whitney, Brandt, Webb, Wade, Couch and others, I could see they were saying much the same thing, but with neither the clarity, nor as concisely as Ian stated it. This was a major learning event for me. I knew I now had a framework for composition that I understood and could apply to my paintings.

Finding that framework took most of my artistic time” during a period of two and a half years during which I almost stopped painting. This “self taught” exercise was successful in that I found a painting framework that worked for me at the cost of an artist block that still hasn’t disappeared 10 year onwards. It was a self-taught lesson that nearly stopped me painting.
 

Iain

2 eyes.
Messages
2,777
That's interesting. I was a late bloomer on reading and missed out on a lot of fundamentals. I actually could hardly read at first skipping half and full years in very early years of school. I also had dyslexia and a weird form of synesthesia that effects how I see letters and numbers. I wound up slowly learning how to read at the public libraries with librarians who turned me onto different authors they thought I'd enjoy at that age (13-15). A lot of beat writers, at first. It wasn't until I was in my 20s when I started reading Steinbeck, Twain, or even Shakespear. I didn't read any art criticism or Art History until well after I was on the internet. I was definitely a very naive artist all before then. I did like to read, however. I was/am still just a slow reader having to overcome all those colors (and personalities, yes personalities) of the letters and numbers. It's frickin distracting.

The reasons I missed so much school is a complicated story: my parents were very unstable, and my brother and I were neglected. We moved at least 15 times before I even reached age 10. At every move, there was a new school to enroll in, and many times, they didn't even enroll us at all. We moved a lot because they broke up constantly (then got back together), and we'd bounce between them as they fought. Their relationship was beyond volatile. They didn't much care about parenting or care about what they were "supposed" to do with putting their kids in school. I most often stayed with my mom who was mentally ill, and she had no idea how to enroll me in school, let alone be a mom. Often, I missed full semesters. I'd fall so far behind, I'd just slipped through the cracks and really, no one noticed. Things were just different in the 70s. Plus, many traumatic things happened to me besides.

It wasn't really until I left home and got legally emancipated from them (right before I turned 15) that I did things for myself and educated myself, and still do. Maybe it's slower than most, but I do the best I can. I think, considering all my circumstances and history, I am doing pretty damn good. And it's only been up until recently that I'm able to give myself that long overdue acknowledgement. Now I'm almost too old to finally enjoy my life for what it is! 😆

I don't think I would have survived your childhood. That you came through at all, to establsh yourself as an artist, is an acknowledgement in itself.
That is worth celebrating. Not that we need a reason. 😉
 
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