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Welcome to my second “first” blog. I call it my second because my first “first” blog was meant to be more of a smiling introduction, a bit of humour to break the ice for a reader receiving an invitation to read YET ANOTHER blog. I enjoyed writing it, had fun doing so, but now the time has come to write of many things, hopefully of a more useful nature for those who dare to venture here.
I read a post recently answering my question: “ What would YOU like to find in a blog?” (my own mini market survey) which suggested that there is a need among new artists, trained or self-taught, young or not, who have yet to show their work, for some practical suggestions about where and how to actually begin their journey. How does one BEGIN? With what tools or learning materials should one begin?
Goodness knows there are many, many books and videos out there with instruction and suggestions, enough to weigh down even the most arduous enthusiasm, but they can sometimes be either so numerous as to intimidate the new artist, impossible to whittle down to ideal selections, or too advanced for some to decipher. Especially for the uninitiated, the one who has not been schooled in art, this plethora of material can be, well, overwhelming.
Despite some training, I prefer to call myself self-taught. It is not something to be ashamed of, for the journey can be more difficult without a teacher, and usually longer, but very rewarding. It gave me time to develop, and find my way as a person first.
So I am very qualified to respond to this person's question. I know what it is to wonder where to begin, what tools to look for, what books to study, and I have bounced from pillar to post finding them AND my self-confidence.
I didn't know where to begin either. I was overwhelmed by the choices I found, the expertise of the artists whose work I admired online, and the expense of launching. My husband was extremely supportive and more than willing to head in whatever direction I chose, if I could only CHOOSE one.
I had begun as a child with drawing and had remained in that stage of development throughout the years of marriage and travelling for my husband's work, having our son, home schooling him through high school level and so on. It wasn't until our son had come to the place where he was teaching himself computer programming at college level, that I had the time to explore my options where my passion for art was concerned.
So, how did I begin?
A friend of mine who was aware of my love of drawing invited me to join her at a workshop being presented in my neighbourhood by a watercolour artist. This was my particular jump start experience. I went, I watched, I conquered! Well, it sure felt like conquering to me when I produced a painting that even I liked! Considering it was my first attempt in a workshop, I was delighted with what I created. Not too shabby for one who had never used watercolours before!
That first hurdle made the next ones easier to approach. For me, jumping in was easier with a life guard. I used what I had learned to paint more, setting up my own still life and experimenting more with my chosen medium, watercolour. Now I was brave enough to try some things on my own. I tried and failed and tried again. Was the work I produced my best work? Well at that particular time, YES! Now I would be hesitatant to show any of them. Others I have reworked until I could share them with people other than my very supportive family. There are one or two that I still like, for one reason or another, usually personal, but of course, I see the flaws clearly with more experience, which is a good thing. We ARE our own worst critics, but that can aid in development. Just try not to be TOO hard on yourself, a lesson I am still learning.
So I would suggest that a good way to begin to get over what I call “starter-stalling”, also known as FEAR of FAILURE, (or conversely Fear of Success) is to search out and attend a workshop of some kind, within your budget, in a medium that is interesting to you. If, like me, your budget is limited, you will find there are community workshops available at a more affordable price. And of course now there are workshops on DVD and online! I did not have those options back in the day.
However you do it, start with someone who has been there before, and grow and experiment from there! Ask questions, try new things, watch and learn. Don't reinvent the wheel; just get it turning for you! If watercolour isn't your style, try another medium. I find acrylics very user friendly. I happen to like their ease of clean up and their quick drying time. If I need more drying time, I can use acrylics that are made to dry more slowly, and work with them for a longer period of time on my canvas. Oils are amazing, and required considerable practice for me. They still do! Or draw with pen and ink, pencil or pastel, or yes, coloured pencils. I was amazed at what some artists create using coloured pencil!
The main thing is to start somewhere. Begin with the understanding that you must try and fail before you can learn and grow. You have to give yourself time to find your niche, your preferred technique; this won't happen unless you get your stuff together and show up at the easel, or the kitchen table.
There will always be those who can do something with higher quality or speed than you, so get over that now. Don't let that intimidate you! It would be easy to feel defeated by the awesome talent of other artists. You are not them and they are not YOU. You are unique. Your purpose is to find what YOU like, what YOU find joy doing, where your talent and abilities lie and then do THAT with all your heart
Read, research, soak up information. Get your 'but' out of the way, and forge what can be a joy-filled future doing what you love. Find a place to start and then learn as much as you can about what you have chosen. Or move on to some other medium. You don't know until you try and try again. The mature artists are still trying out things, and techniques, and learning as they paint. You will be amazed by the things that happen once the wheels are turning and the motor running! Experience is truly the best teacher!
Next time I will discuss some specifics I found helpful in my journey. I am adding links all the time, so feel free to check those out. “The Painter's Keys” is one of the best I have found anywhere online, along with FASO (Fine Art Studio Online). Just start your engines, my friend, and have fun on the trip!
I will also be sharing some of the best books I have found on the market.