How people learn to paint

  • How people learn and absorb things differently.
  • Attitude and enthusiasm is important.
  • Knowledge and research is awesome.
  • Success depends on your input.

Things get really exciting when you put your heart and soul into painting. You can’t stop yourself. All you want to do is paint. Painting is like exploring the world around you: Been part of it, enjoying God’s creations. Forever fascinating!

Early spring, watercolour.

Early spring, watercolour.

But everyone learns to paint in different ways and progresses differently.

Not everyone comprehends in the same way:

Even though I had always shown people different ways of doing techniques, I naturally thought everyone understood my simple terminology. Until I had an art student, a woman of about forty years of age, who asked me what the word `composition’ meant?

I was shocked at first and rather speechless. Surely I thought, `at her age she should know that!’ But the whole class was sitting there looking at me, waiting for me to say something. What could I say? I had to say something.

What ran through my mind was: at school we were told to write a composition. A musician composes music, etc. Then it dawned on me, not everyone absorbs facts the same way, and that each trade has their own jargon, ways of doing things. Yep, that is right, artists are another breed!

Here was a woman who needed a different approach to what was said and demonstrated. So that is why I try to explain art terms where possible in my blogs.

 If you are still wondering what a composition is:

A composition, in artists’ terms, is the arrangement and placement of objects within the framework of your watercolour paper (or canvas).

If you want to paint a really good watercolour, the trick is to simplify your composition by selecting the main distinctive objects and eliminating the unnecessary detail. Why and how does this work? People unconsciously take in the biggest dominant objects first (symbolically).

  • You only need a few details to confirm your statement. Unnecessary extra details are what I call the ‘fills and baubles’.

 Attitude is important:

People who aren’t serious about their ambitions, are never successful. Why? Because their heart and soul isn’t in it, to make it work! Someone once said `a faint heart never won what’s expected’.

So how do people learn to paint?

From experience I’ve noticed the following when giving art classes:

  • Social group: These people generally expect fun time out with friends and are inclined to ignore theory. The demo looked so easy and exciting, that all they wanted to do is get into painting straight away, and do `their thing’. So it isn’t surprising they forgot the instructions they were given and got disheartened when things didn’t turnout the way they expected.
  • Myth Group: They stuck to myths and their old ways of doing things, never growing or expanding their potential.
  • Teamwork group: Demonstration and theory time was interlaced. They were quite happy to work as a group and asked for additional advice as they worked. They learnt new things but didn’t ever paint at home. Their progress was slow.
  • Extramural work group: They kept records and their class exercises in a file for revision. And they did extramural work at home. They often came back with questions. These people advanced quickly.
How people learn tto paint

Learning curve pyramid. How groups of people learn to paint.

 Knowledge and research:

Success of any kind is grounded in knowledge. And knowledge without action is useless. It is therefore necessary to understand theory, principles and laws governing art, so you can understand what is involved when painting. That is:

  • Making personal colour charts helps you understand how colours are mixed and how to devise composition colour schemes.
  • Personally analyzing and turning theory into simple diagrams: Helps make things easier to understand and stick in your subconscious, until it becomes intuitively second nature to you while you are painting.

When I first started painting I didn’t want to make charts. I thought it was a waste of time. Can you believe that?!

I made notes from library books and then experimenting for myself. Yes, I learnt a lot, but things didn’t really gel until I made charts and diagrams.

It was only when I analyzed theory and made simple diagrams and colour charts and swatches, that I understood why academic institutions make art students do all the `boring stuff’ first.

 Doing research is awesome:

I’ve really enjoyed doing research. It’s so exciting delving into theories, interlacing facts and discovery new theories.

The `moral of the story’ is: ‘What you put in, is what you get out’

What happens when you learn something new?

You may hear or read something over and over again but not fully comprehend the full impact of the statement or principle, until one day something happens and a `new’ fact stands out like a clear revelation.

The import of the fact hits you –wham. It could be just a little thing or fact you read, heard or saw, but what a difference it makes to the quality of your work and life style from that moment on!

I recall `light-bulb’ experiences, which some people call `WOW moments or Aaah moments’.

 It isn’t wise to stick to old ways:

If you stick to the old ways of doing things you get in a rut. Your creative powers and style goes stale.

We may think we know it all, but there is always something new to learn in art. Today professional artists are breaking boundaries, challenging traditional concepts and conventional theories to get them in the limelight. Why? Trends are changing all the time. Galleries need to look for originality to keep ahead of the demand.

 If you agree with this, let me know, I would love to hear your input.

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