The Laws of Nature

Sunday, June 13, 2010

How To Become An Artist

Just for fun, I "googled" the phrase how to become an artist. The first website listed was wikiHow, which offers up 7 steps for becoming an artist. Wow, only 7 steps!! I wish I had known that fifty years ago. With some editing, I've listed them below:

Step 1: Buy a sketchbook and sketching pencil. Buy an easel and paints. Go to the stores. Draw things you see. Go to the park, and sit on a bench and just look around you. Art is everywhere. If you look at all this and find you are interested in learning more, then you have an artistic nature. You can easily become an artist.

KC - OK, you've gotta' start somewhere, but I'm not so certain about the last sentence. Becoming an artist isn't so "easy."

Step 2: Actually 'look' at things intently, and mark it all down in your sketchbook.

KC - this seems reasonable enough, although it teaches you to faithfully render what you see without any infusion of the artist's personality or ideas.

Step 3: Develop more of an artistic nature. Learn about colors, shades, and how to use them. Buy a color wheel and try to change colors. Decide what type of art you are interested in.

KC - these are necessary steps, but very difficult to accomplish on your own. Early on, it's very difficult to identify the type of art you're interested in. Style comes after much time has been spent experimenting.

Step 4: Train your eyes to focus on structure, color, and value. Do not paint or draw as to how the object "should" look, rather than how it does look.

KC - well, this step sure does kill the creative spirit! If an accurate rendering is the goal, then just pull out a camera and take a picture.

Step 5: Buy books on art education, Recommended is "Drawing From The Right Side of The Brain".

KC - a good book, but limiting.

Step 6: Find Internet sites about artists, art methods, drawing, and painting. Becoming an artist is not difficult once you realize what type of art you are interested in.

KC - again, it takes time to identify your own voice and personal style. If you make a decision early on based upon finding someone else's work that you want to emulate, then you'll only be an imitator and not unique.

Step 7: Understand that no one has to be born with a talent. Just remember being an artist is not how well you can draw, but the emotion that comes out of it.

KC - The second sentence is true, but the previous 6 steps don't lead you to it, they only encourage you to imitate.

If I were a beginning artist who elected to follow these 7 steps, I'd be lost and frustrated. There's no single approach to becoming an artist, and cookbook formulas like this one are misleading.

Becoming an artist can be as simple as taking only one step or as complex as taking one million steps.

Becoming an artist is more than gaining technical expertise or imitating the work of others.
Becoming an artist is more than a conscious decision, it's an emotional one as well.

Becoming an artist is making a life-long commitment to a love affair with creativity and artmaking that endures for better for worse, in sickness and in health, and for richer or poorer.

Becoming an artist is ......

What are your thoughts?


hw (hallie) farber said...

Interesting. Wiki doesn't mention that it might take a lifetime to get from Step 1 to Step 7. You're so right about art being an emotional --not just conscious--decision. (I'm not even sure it's a decision.)

Mark Sheeky said...

If it's a Wiki then you Kathy among all of us could enter the best seven steps.

Hmm, let's see. I wonder what my steps were.

1. Find a mentor to suggest a subject and deadline. Buy a starter set of paints and paint it for them.

2. Experiment with the media and techniques.

3. Buy books on colour mixing, drawing, and books about great artists of the past that explain and depict their paintings.

4. Visit art galleries and watch art documentaries while continuing to practise technique.

5. Enter art competitions and join a local art group. Commune with other artists.

6. Choose your own art philosophy and express it through your art.

7. Hold an exhibition. Soon after someone will call you "an artist" for the first time.

The end..?

Dan Kent said...

I don't think I can comment on the steps to becoming an artist, since I am still an artist-becoming.

But this brings to mind a saying I love. To apply it here, I substitute, for the word "life", the words "becoming an artist", and voila!:

"Becoming an artist is a journey to be lived, not a puzzle to be solved."

-Don said...

Nice quote, Dan!

I've called myself an artist since I was 4 years old, but, I'm not sure how many of those 'Wiki'steps I followed before getting to that point. I started creating because it was fun, kept me out of trouble and caused adults to say nice things about me. Hmmm, I guess you could say that those were my first 3 steps... My next 4 steps would involve mentors, teachers, observation and experimentation.

What a fun "exercise" you worked out to this morning. Thanks for including us in the fun.


Eva said...

That list would have kill any desire for me to become an artist. Half of the stuff on the list I would not have even understood when I started. I think if you really want to become an artist you eventually will.There are no guaranteed steps to success.You figure what you have to do and create, create, create!

Anonymous said...

Great post! My first thought was- who would Google how to become an artist? Well- an artist would. I slay myself!!! LOL!!!!!
I like Mark's response of "Choose your own art philosophy and express it through your art." WOW!
Despite my waffling and ambivalence- are you listening Dan?- I AM AN ARTIST!- but haven't followed a list. Like Hallie says- it's emotional- and for me, art is an emotional outlet. I only wish I knew it much earlier- but that kind of wishing is just wasted energy.

Unknown said...

Hi Hallie - yes, the time factor can be extremely long in duration for some, and very short for others.

Hi Mark - your list is interesting, and clearly one of the paths among so many. I do hope that you could apply the label "artist" to yourself before anyone else did. You ARE an artist.

Hi Dan - what a great quote! Thank you.

Hi Don - like you, I was identified as an artist before entering kindergarten (by my parents) so it became part of my "core."

Hi Eva - so true! Continually making art is the critical step.

Hi Pam - as long as you're living and breathing, it's never too late! Keep going :-)

Celeste Bergin said...

"Just remember being an artist is not how well you can draw, but the emotion that comes out of it."

Fine. If you have no plans to do any representational work. If you do, however, you need to learn to draw. It always chagrins me when I read that it is "unnecessary to learn to draw". That is generally written by people who want to just splash color around without rhyme or reason (or just "emotionally). It's bad advice to discount drawing!

Unknown said...

Hi Celeste - I was trained to learn to draw before learning to paint. In fact, I took years of drawing courses before I could taking the first painting course in college. I think it's critically important to learn to draw in one fashion or another in order to have control and make your work deliberate, even if you don't become a realist. I also learned classical piano before I could move on to improvisation. The logic is the same.

layers said...

I certainly agree with you-- and your responses to the steps and your conclusions as to 'how to become and artist' is right on... I got nothing to add :-)

Stan Kurth said...

If you desire to be an artist, be true to the call.

Unknown said...

Hi Donna - thank you!

Hi Stan - Amen!

Casey Klahn said...

I'll offer a quote I heard from Wolf Kahn this year. He said, "if you are particularly unfortunate, you might become an artist."