Tuesday, November 24, 2015

To a Student...

The following is excerpted from correspondence from my "Guru" Art instruction program.

People live in "Seasons" you know, and the phase where we try to conquer the world does eventually pass. Then we may look back on it all more clearly.

My own experience is similar because in the beginning you want to win the war, the victory, gain the adulation, respect, acknowledgement and all that.  It is, of course, ego.  So we want the best arsenal--or toolkit--to give us an advantage.  We collect books, swipe files, go to zoos with sketchpads, and fall asleep at night wrestling with sticky drawing problems, have dreams with Famous Artists in them.

And we may choose a "Master" artist to apprentice to. There's an inherent contradiction with admiring and emulating a "master artist" all the while trying to unseat and surpass him.  It's a little like killing your parents, and seems an insoluble dilemma.

But the real truth is what artists like Picasso and Chagall discovered, and that is there are no Master artists.   More truthful is that everyone is an artist, but they are limited by their beliefs. They are in fact that: Limiting Beliefs.  But they can be transcended.

Not to make little or light of how you feel at the moment, or make the solution look too easy, too obvious or too clear.

But Art can exist for many different reasons, it can come from "the Soul", dependent on your beliefs and experiences, or it can come from the Ego.  Children and Aborigines draw from their core selves, but we make the mistake of trying to do it from our egos and intellects.  Then we have to take it all the way and hopefully come out on the other side.

Another artist who is working from his Ego is not going to help you, in fact he is only going to beat you down.

I've had students who experience tremendous anxieties, fears of failure, and minds that race nonstop in a mad-dash attempt to conquer the problem--or climb the mountain, or whatever.  When you consider how technically difficult it all is it does get a little daunting.  But it all happens a step at a time.  Racing, getting ahead of oneself, can be self-sabotage.

It's frustrating to be going at maximum effort and then fail over and over again, so in a way the answer has got to be some sort of Zen-like understanding of one's self and one's Intentions, our inner programming.

Have you wondered why drawing figures engenders a constant "failure mode" for years and years, but a child can't possibly fail to create a picture they find pleasing and satisfying?  Is their picture "better" than ours, or the other way around?

Being an artist and trying to master complex skills like Drawing and Painting is like falling off a bike over and over again, so no wonder it is terrible for morale. But there are ways around it. 

You know my Monster drawing books say you're going to make mistakes and you should encourage them, after all you're drawing monsters? 

So making mistakes is actually a good process because we have to in order to learn.  There is no other way. Feet too big?  Head too small?  Change them next time around. 

You're always going be changing and evolving, your Art too, so there never really is "a destination" you arrive at. At any given time, you are where you're meant to be. When you look at a drawing from last year, or even last week, you know you've evolved since then.  And you know you'll do better next time, and after that, after that....

But pushing too hard in the wrong areas can severely choke off progress, but we "obsessive types" like to do that.  So we may need to take a break, back off and develop a deeper understanding of what's going on, our motivations, our hopes, and what we bring to it all from our background.

One of the main reasons The Artist gets killed in people is due to their parents lack of encouragement or outright criticism.  All our later acts in life get molded by these sorts of experiences.  My Dad hated comics with a passion, right up until I got my first paycheck for drawing them. 

But you can get other aspects of yourself badly bruised and they will profoundly affect your life's trajectory, even though The Folks might have totally approved of the Art Career.  Those old wounds, patterns, or whatever, can still dictate and "pilot the vehicle" so to speak.

But what you don't need is to believe you're somehow doing something wrong.

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