Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Art School??

Seven years of hard work and love of art so far, many more to come.

    I have done a lot of thinking and researching about art school in the last few years. To go or not to go, that is the question. I've been told and have read so many different things that in the end it all comes down to what I truly want to do and which way will be the best for me to get where I want to be. But which way will be the best for me? And why?

    To go: Many people tell me that the only way to become a real artist and to rise above the mediocre is to go to art school, to get formal education. It will broaden my horizons, I will learn about art history and the different schools of thought in the art world, which will all intellectually stimulate me and help make my own work relevant. I will also make connections and build a network of friends and acquaintance in the art world. And above all it will teach me the skills I need to achieve great things and make good art. I will have all the facilities for painting at the art school and have teachers and fellow students to ask questions and to and have critique my work. Many people also say that a university is the best place to learn to use information and learn how to learn. And on top of all that I will have a degree and qualifications--which will let people know that I might be a serious artist.

    Or not to go: Other people tell me that art school is not necessary. That I can become a very successful artist without it. In not going to art school I will have the freedom to think for myself and choose what I want to learn. I will be able to stay more true to myself and follow my own path without being influenced by art because it is the latest thing; instead, choosing what art I wish to influence me. These days there is so much information easily available on the internet and in books and through simply asking questions to already established artists. So with just as much information that a university has already available to me, I am able to achieve just as much as if I went to art school. Though, I agree, I will probably not achieve the same kind of things.

    So what do I want to achieve? I want to be an artist, as an artist I wish to be the best I can be, and in doing the best I can do I want to share the beauty and truth I see around me. In me I have a vision that I can not describe in words, my goal is to learn the skills and techniques of painting and drawing that will allow me to express what I can see in my minds eye onto canvass.

    Sometimes I get quite excited about the idea of going to art school. I research all the art schools in the country, read all about them, and think it all over again. But in the end I always come back to the same conclusion. As much as I would like to go to art school, I can never quite justify it to myself when I think realistically about who I am, where I am, and where I want to be. I don't need to go to art school to be able to learn the skills that I want. Most of that comes from time spent actually doing it and learning from books and the internet, that is how I've come as far as I have. There is no substitute for practice. As for art history, I read a lot and am interested in it enough not to need to go to a school where I would have to read books on art history, theory, etc.

     For me, now, art school would just get in the way of what I want to do and only serve to delay my career. I have already taken the first small steps in my career and I am very blessed to be able to live at home with my family still where I don't need to pay many bills and where I can have my own studio. I work away really hard without immediate results, but I'm teaching myself and learning how to live the life I want to live by living it. No, I can't exactly say I earn any money to speak of, but I'm working on it, just as I would be in art school, but here I am free to follow my dreams and I am! I have begun a long term art project to work on a collection of backcountry hut drawings. And I have already been on two amazing adventures gathering material for that. I am learning that life isn't always logical, and that even with no money it is still possible to follow my dreams though it may be harder at times. I guess it must be one of those universal laws or truths that cause everything to work out for the best once one starts on the path they want to follow. Well, I guess it is logical really. I want to be an artist so I paint, and because I am passionate about it I learn more and more and become better and better at it, and learning to sell my work is part of it. If I was out to make a lot of money, I would approach things differently and take a different path, but all I want is to do paint and be able to support myself independently 'by my bush'.

    Anyway I'm going off topic here, because even if I went to art school I'd still be a poor artist, more so probably! So, Art School? For me, the answer is no. I don't think they would teach me what I want to know. When I look at the art in the art market today and the art in the intellectual sphere of which art school would be a part of, I don't think I want to know. I haven't found an art school in NZ yet that teaches what I want to learn. I am a lover of traditional art, of painterly painting, and art that can share beauty and truth--something that has been scorned in modern and conceptual art. Like the Impressionists, I know I can't get where I want to go in the art institutions of today. So, alone I am following my vision.

   I am going to have to work hard. Draw, draw, draw and paint all the rest of the time. And in the moments between learn to sell my work to make a hard earned dollar. I am with the great painter in saying...

'I am seeking. I am striving.
I am in it with all my heart.'
-Van Gogh


  1. I agree 100% with your thinking Felicity. I started drawing friends' pets/horses for fun and things escalated from there but for a long time I was convinced that I couldn't consider myself 'an artist' unless I gained some qualifications and perhaps some letters after my name. I enjoy working with pencils (including pastels) and didn't really want to be forced into using paints/collage/lino cuts etc., as part of an art school course. I'm not really interested in studying the history of art (except the artists whose work I personally admire and which might influence me).

    So I believe that whilst it suits some people, art school isn't essential for all - taking short courses, studying tutorials online etc and joining good forums with like-minded people can be just as beneficial

    1. Thanks for your comment, it's really encouraging to hear.
      One can learn just about anything without formal training these days as long as one is dedicated and passionate enough. That's the important bit, passion.