Original Sin

What makes art yours?

As a student of art we need to study... pretty much for the rest of our lives. Monet only just thought he was beginning to understand painting when he was in his 90’s. The most important thing that you can do to “study” is to paint, as much as you possibly can. Of course drawing practice and art history are terrific too, but we are not teenagers, and I still hold that the best way to paint better is by painting.

Pretty much all of the old masters studied by copying other, generally well respected, paintings. Choosing an artist that inspires you and copying their work is a terrific and rather fun way to learn all kinds of things about painting. How did they get that color, texture, shading, brushwork?  Why did they choose that composition, lighting, subject matter? And maybe even, what were they trying to say, and can you feel that same passion?

All that being said, the painting (or even photograph if it is taken by someone else) you have just copied will always remain someone else’s art. Part of the reason it is so much fun is, quite frankly, the fact that you just copied all of the above referenced work (composition, color, lighting, etc.) You didn’t do any of the hard work. By now most of you know how hard it is to come up withTHE IDEA. Here is the rub: setting up the still-life, choosing the landscape, sweating through the abstract are all part of what makes the painting ART. You have to suffer through the indecisions, the insecurities, the “I don’t know what I’m doing” and, “this is crap” moments (or hours and days). Only then will the paintings become yours, and eventually, you will “own” them. By this I mean that they will be your work, descended from the masters, the poets and all the influences, experiences and visions in your life. Your very own blood sweat and tears there on the canvas for all to see (yikes).

So, paint away, my friends, paint all you see and can be inspired by. But be honest with yourself and others, the truly great work comes from within. And please note, I have seen truly great work from all of you.

PS: It was a catchy title, don’t take it too seriously.