I’ve learned over the years that people aren’t so much interested in an artist’s technical skills as they are interested in what an artist has to say. They want to know how an artist sees things, their particular slant on life, their perspective, their vision. They want to know what an artist focuses on when looking at a subject. What is it an artist sees that is different than what the average person sees? What is that makes an artist different?
As a watercolor painting instructor it is important for me to convey this fact to my students. I want them to know the first step in becoming an artist is to master the technical skills of watercolor painting. How do you mix your colors, handle the brushes, apply the paint to the paper, control washes, apply detail over the washes, etc.
But I encourage them to not stop there. Once they have a semblance of control of these skills, it is time to start focusing on what they want to say as an artist. This is the important part! In this age of the rapid onslaught of technological developments, a simple phone app can turn your photograph into a drawing or painting. You can even select what medium in which you want your photograph to appear. Oil Painting? Pencil Drawing? Watercolor Painting? Impressionistic? Realistic? These are all available with the push of a button. The mere copying of a subject can now be done with your I-phone as well if not better than the artist.
But artists can interpret things in their own unique way. They can create a stronger design, they can edit, deleting and adding to enhance their message, they can emphasize or de-emphasize areas in the composition. They can show their own perspective on things. They can show their own unique view. This takes the art of painting beyond the act of copying. So the main question I ask my students is “what are you trying to say?” I encourage them to ask this question of themselves before they start a painting and to keep asking this question throughout the painting process. In the end this is what separates one artist from another and what separates artists from copying machines. What is it that you have to say!!!