Individuality Makes Original Art
My Art Teaching Philosophy – in a nutshell, to paint with feeling in your own way.
I have taught people to fly, to program computers and to manage teams, but none of these comes close to the challenge of teaching people to paint. All the previous teaching was for the most part about technical competence. A pilot or a computer programmer and to a lesser extent a manager apply technical skills to get the job done. Not so in painting; painting is an art after all.
We need technical skills to paint but they need not be honed to perfection as they have to be for a pilot. When I was learning to paint I found those “How to paint” courses useful but not rewarding to me, something was missing. Later I found out what it was – I was not being taught about “what and why” just the “how”. It was as if I was learning to fly more and more expertly but I had nowhere to go. I almost stopped painting but then I got lucky and found a course called “Find Your Own Direction” in the USA. It changed how I approached painting forever. I started to find out where I wanted to go with my painting – to take my own road – it felt great! Since then I have worked with five like minded tutors over several years in the USA and my paintings are now very pleasing to me.
I want to help other artists to find their way too. I want them to become as passionate about art as I am and to paint truly individual paintings. And I want to release a painter’s latent creativity and to help them create what they really want to paint and be driven by their passions. There are plenty of courses that teach techniques and they have their place but I do not want to add to them.
I recall someone telling me that your brush is an extension of you, it is attached to your centre of emotions – let that guide you in your painting journey. That is the core of my art teaching philosophy, it is what I believe and teach. It means encouraging students to look inside themselves to find their own passions and to let it flow onto the paper in the manner that they want it to.
Painting is about PERSONAL EXPRESSION. We are all different from each other and it is the differences that make paintings individual, personal and truly engaging.
Quite frequently and particularly with experienced painters, I find students are pursuing an approach which they hope will lead to successful paintings… but it is not working for them. A good example is the application of watercolour. For many, watercolour inhibits creativity rather than facilitating it simply because of the way people are taught to apply it – the “traditional” way I show them that there are many ways to apply the paint other than the traditional way and this is a release to students who then feel free to do it their way. There are many other examples and I like to demonstrate them so that painting becomes a straightforward set of tools made to enable individual creativity. Beginners have the advantage of not being schooled in a particular technique and they readily find their way with some help from me. The goal is the same for everyone, to make genuine personal paintings, to create art that has been inspired from their own emotional reactions, their own idea. They no longer paint things, they paint feelings, their own feelings.
Like learning to fly, or anything else for that matter, you have to be serious about it to do it well but you can have fun! Fun and enjoyment lubricate the learning process and anyway, life is too short not to have some fun. My philosophy is based on the enjoyment of learning.
And with painting, unlike flying, you can be bold and take risks! I encourage that to the full.
What you teach is what you are. You don’t teach by telling people things. – Milton Glaser