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Monday, April 19, 2010

So you want to paint ...?

An old schoolfriend ... that just sounds wrong ... let me start that again .... a friend that I was a school with, who is just as young as I am, dropped me a message on FaceBook to ask, "Have you got any advice for me? What should I do to learn about painting?"

Well, I asked her why she wanted to learn. If one has aspirations of becoming a famous and wealthy artist, I really wouldn't know how to go about it. What I do know is that whatever you paint, however bad or good you are, or think you are, is likely to impress your family and friends who want the best for you and are probably too subjective to tell you what you need to hear; is likely to be spurned by galleries and collectors, who are looking for big names that sell; and is likely to be looked on with complete disinterest by your peers. If you were expecting something different, find a Hollywood actor to marry, it's an easier route to the red carpet. If however you paint because you ARE a painter; because you are DRIVEN to paint; because if you don't paint you go insane, and because when you don't paint you start having nightmares that Dali has abducted your children and is melting them all over the landscape, then painting is for you!

Fortunately our subject's answer to my question was a solid one: "I've always wanted to. I've feel like its in me but I have never got around to doing anything about it. Painted furniture and houses and love Paint itself. Wish I could use it to express myself and also create something that's speaks to me. Need to get it out there. Wouldn't know which paint to even start with. Doesn't have to be a profession but I want how to do it right so I can get the effect I want" .

Anyway, I thought that it would be an interesting blogging topic series.  Oddly enough (well, maybe not odd to you, but odd to me) it is a question I get asked relatively frequently. I say odd to me, because I don't actually know a heck of a lot about painting except what I have learned from my own experience. I am totally self taught, having never done a course or studied art and so it is likely that everything I have learned is "wrong". BUT I am not adverse to offering my opinions and dispensing whatever information I can (even if it's on things I only know a little about. ;) ).

So, over the next few days I will post my thoughts revolving around certain topics in the "advice" sphere. ... starting with courses.

Should I do a course?
Well ... I learn best through trial and error. Some people can't abide it; for me, well, that's the quickest route to rewiring my brain to do something it wasn't programmed to do. I experiment, get it wrong lots and eventually find something that works. Once it's learned it's there for good. Having said that, if I'd done courses, studied etc. I'd probably be a much better painter, and got to this point a hell of a lot quicker ... learning from someone elses mistakes is not a bad way to go (but never accept it as law ... teachers can only show you what they know ... and they don't know everything). So if you are a "course" type person, and you can find one with someone who knows what they're doing, go for it!

Things you might want to work out before you do a course? (... and I'll cover these next post):
  • What medium do you want to use. (yes that IS a huge deal)
  • What you want to paint. (still lives, landscape, portraits, eveything?)
  • Who you want to paint like.(a strange thing to say I know ... but I have my reasons).
 ... but more of that tomorrow.

I hope you find this constructive. If not well ... hey ... you can't say I didn't try.

 "Vacant Stare" (WIP), 20cm x 20cm, Oil on Canvas
Carl is:
  • Keeping himself very distracted by working really really hard.
  • Listening to this album (this song ... best played at high volume)
  • Watching this movie again
  • Reading this book 
  • Hanging with Rembrandt ... she's a pet rat)


Anonymous said...

very informative post & i quite like the goth look of "Vacant Stare" ;)

Anonymous said...

she must be a very special rat to be named after one of the greatest painters for his time :)

Mercia Deale said...

Thanks for this Carl, I could not have put it better myself.
I view art and the various techniques in a similar way as the saying goes about love-making: It's not the destination but the journey that counts.
And certainly we can learn alot from workshops, art class etc. but like you say, nothing sticks in your brain more like trial and error, it's embedded in the neurons thus becoming part of your chemistry, so you cannot help to view each bruch stroke as part of yourself.
The urge to paint does not come from a passing fad or social and/or politically correct passtime, it's a deep routed soul yearning, no matter if the painting is a complete failure or the sketch is hardly more than a few lines - it's the journey you undergo whilst you have that brush or pencil in hand - and what a journey it is!

Lara Mellon's blog - Finding Things ... said...

Love LOVE ... LOVE ... vacant stare. Carl ... you're on such a roll getting better and better BY THE DAY. Wonderful work. and your blog is great and i really agree with your thoughts about painting ... am there with you. I say (with a twinkle in my eye) that I paint because i love my family; if I didn't I'd be MUCH harder to live with. I paint and create because it's the air my soul needs to breathe. In keeping with your sentiment, there's a lovely quote that we could adapt or apply to learning to paint ... "You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way, you learn to love by loving.” Anatole France
Happy happy painting Carl.
Love sent,

Carl said...

Thanks for the feedback ... I'm glad you found it informative.
Anon, the titles given in "The Game" instantly brought to mind such powerful images, such stirring emotions that the resulting paintings might be a little intense. I do suppose "Vacant Stare" is a bit gothic so far (... there is work yet to be done), but it tries to get the viewer to "feel" the reason behind those eyes ... to understand the depth of suffering that caused those eyes. There is a poem that goes along with this painting ... it was what was in mind when painting it. When it is finished and I post the completed pic I will post the poem too ... I suppose you are right ... all this is rather gothic. ;)

Carl said...

Haha ... Yes Rembrandt was one of the greatest painters of ALL time! Actually that was the name that jumped to mind when I picked her up ... that's probably completey weird, I know.
Anyway, she's good company late at night when only we nocturnal animals are up ... she naps on my neck when I get to the detail though. ;)

Carl said...

Thanks Mercia ... glad you feel the same way. I appreciate you reading my babble. Thank you.

Carl said...

Lara! It's incredibly flattering and motivating to hear such kind words from an artist of YOUR calibre! Thank you so much.
... and yes, I heard someone once say that painters paint, actors act, dancers dance, athletes ... well athletes don't athlete, but you get the point. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog,Carl. At least I feel 'normal' now being strangely drawn to painting. I see its common among 'artists'. Will consider a course when I figure out what I want to do. The "Vacant Eyes" is almost scary. Like if I look into her eyes I'm going to get sucked into her misery. Its really disconcerting!

Carl said...

Ooooh Anonymous ... you are treading dangerous ground feeling 'normal' like that! If word get's out. your career as an artist is sunk before it even begins! Don't you know that as an artist you are obliged to harbour all sorts of eccentricities?
In truth I think that everyone has a intrinsic desire to create ... people are 'makers' ... it's part of being made in the Creator's image I believe. Some embrace that desire, and some suppress it; but art is just one of many ways of meeting that 'need'.
I am pleased you have such an empathetic response to "Vacant Stare" ... mission accomplished. :)