Can I learn to Paint?

by | Sep 2, 2021 | Art Blog | 0 comments

IT IS POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO LEARN TO PAINT. 

YOU HAVE THE CAPACITY TO CREATE YOUR OWN BEAUTIFUL PAINTINGS. 

When I started I had no knowledge of painting, nor did I consider I had any artistic ability but the passion was there.

My aim is to pass-i-on, the passion of painting because I know what learning to paint has given me over a lifetime.   

I have been teaching oil painting alongside practicing the craft for over 40 years.     Learning to paint has given me an interesting life, meeting people, painting on location in different parts of the world, and on reflection the paintings I created have continued to hold indelible memories, long after the trips, even after the painting is sold.    

Over a long career studying, teaching, and talking with students, I have developed a philosophy, that everyone is a creative being with a right to a creative life.   This remains the motivation for me continuing to hand on the knowledge I have gained.  

At school I did not particularly excel at drawing or any art form, but I found myself daydreaming about the aesthetic of the visual world. I had a desire to get inside these visions of the world and make them concrete, but I had no vehicle allowing me to do that. 

I distinctly remember being given the opportunity at high school art class to do my first oil painting.   It was a profile portrait of my friend who sat beside me.   I remember the feeling I had when the oil paint on the brush slid across the canvas.   It was a significant moment in my life and from then on, I was compelled to pursue that feeling again and again.   

After attempting to experiment to learn to paint I decided to take lessons in painting, and it was the best thing I ever did.   It empowered me, gave me confidence to continue practicing and improving.   When I was given an opportunity to teach, I jumped at it because I wanted to pass on the knowledge to more people so they too could discover what I had experienced in ‘picking up the brush’.  

STUDENTS ASK ME, CAN I LEARN TO PAINT?

Over the years when prospective students have contacted me, there is a consistent theme in their enquiry.

They have had a similar experience as I did in school and say they have had a desire to learn to paint as far back as their school days, but for many reasons they have not pursued that desire.  Many also say they were not a top art student at school and lack confidence in their artistic ability to learn to paint.

THE FIRST MISCONCEPTION IS THE ARTIST IS A GENIUS

The artist has a mystique surrounding it, inferring artistic ability as the gift of the few, the genius with copious amounts of talent. This is partly true in the sense, we are all born with creative ability, however there is an artificial construction encouraged by institutions to elevate some above others.  We are taught this way at school, and it is not helpful for your own artistic ability.  We need to educate and know that we are all creative beings and have our own unique voice in the world.

It’s about going through the world with a sensitive eye and intuition with the passion and dedication to pursue the ambition. 

THE SECOND MISCONCEPTION IS THAT YOU NEED DRAWING SKILLS TO PAINT  

Prospective students tell me that they cannot draw, and they cannot draw a straight line.

I say to them that’s excellent because a line or a straight line is something we don’t want in a painting.  This means you have no bad habits to break and can be taught to be a painter, not necessarily a drawer. Although your drawing skills will improve as you learn to paint.

Drawing and painting are two very different things and end in two different outcomes.  We only make rough compositional marks on the canvas before starting to paint because once the paint covers the marks, they are rendered useless.  

THE THIRD MISCONCEPTION IS THAT IT TAKES YEARS TO LEARN TO PAINT

Knowledge is power and confidence building. With some simple but powerful knowledge you can learn to paint, giving you many benefits in your life far beyond painting. 

With carefully crafted step by step instructions, you are taught the fundamentals of constructing a painting and at the same time learn greater observational skills of all facets of the visual world, as you become more confident.  

The simple step by step instructions give a clear path to ‘the next step in the painting’, and before you know it you have produced your own beautiful work in a short time frame. Although I recommend continuing to learn the nuances of painting. Remember practice makes progress. 

And each painting is a step towards the next one.

The fundamental thing I teach is to ‘see’.  To see the nuances, light effects, the colour, the shapes. 

Students excitedly say to me – 

Before I learnt to see I was merely looking, now a new world has opened to me. It’s an exciting and alive view of the world giving me endless possibilities and confidence to paint.

In conclusion, I would add, learning to paint is a worthwhile journey for you to take, empowering you to go far and see the world with new eyes. It’s as hard to learn to paint as making the decision to start.

Ellen Michel.

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