I am a painter and a photographer. The term “self taught” is used often by people like me who do not have the credentials of a formal art education but whenever I say it I feel a little guilty because it sounds… well…self sacrificing. Even though I started on this artistic journey alone I certainly have not been unaided. Artists near and far, alive and long past gone have helped me to become the painter I am today. And I am sure there will be others who will continue to guide me as I grow creatively, stretching my artistic ability to heights that I never thought I could reach.
When I view the artwork of my favorite master painters, Constable, Turner, Sargent, to name a few, I wonder at their talent. Did they know how good they were or did they have days of complete and utter frustration? Did they struggle over every brushstroke or was it just all in a days work for them?
I have read some of the writings (letters) of artists and I have come to the realization that they also struggled in their quest to fill a canvas. I don’t believe it is easy for any of us, is it? But no one but another artist will understand the sweat involved, which is maybe how it should be. When I complete a painting, I forget the aggravation I may have gone through to get that effect or mood I was trying to achieve. In the end, it is the result that counts, right?
I have become a better painter through hard work and self study but this was absolutely because of the knowledge of those who came before. But more importantly, even though studying their techniques is a valuable learning experience, I know that their thoughts are not my thoughts. Their dreams are not my dreams. It is my job, my duty as an artist to follow my own path, my own style, using the tools they have left behind.
These painters have a left us a great legacy. Study, practice and believe in yourself.