Are you also afraid to show your art to the world? When you paint, write, create….. you know it won’t be loved by everybody, but when you get a negative comment it still hurts like hell, doesn’t it? Also when you don’t get a comment or review it hurts as well…. when people just look at your drawing and don’t say anything? I immediately think they don’t like it! Of course they might not like it. So what?
What about you? When do you feel most in doubt about what you make? Are you also counting the likes on Instagram and comparing yourself to others??
Last week I was struck with a panic that my new online class about colors was just crap. I made rubbish.
I started to really doubt everything about myself. All my classes and books were just crap? After all, I didn’t sell that many books and didn’t have so many students? Other teachers on Skillshare have so many more students !
it all started with that comment I received from one of the students that said that she’s not ready for so much “freedom” and was maybe kind of lost that I spoke so much about my “emotional choice of colors” instead of “technical”, maybe because I didn’t give any clear instructions on what colors to put in the palette?
But I want to let go of my left brain. I want to choose my colors with the right side of my brain and only paint with that side… my emotional side. With the colors that make me happy.
How do you chose your colors? I chose the colors that make me happy, and I choose them according to what I want to paint. It’s not “technical”….
I’m tired of looking for painting rules. Of course, when I was in the beginning of my journey, that’s what I was holding onto: I was looking for artists to give me step by step rules on how to make art. Like: “the 10 laws of watercolor”. “Do this, paint like that, don’t do like this… And when you follow that recipe you can make a great watercolor.
The problem with such methods is that you end up painting the way your teacher paints… When I did masterclasses with Jeanine Gallizia, at the end of the week I had 5 Gallizia’s, and when I did a masterclass with Joseph Zbuckvic I finished the week with 5 Zbuckvc paintings… My Aha – moment came when I did a masterclass with an Austrian painter, Bernhard Vogel, who left a lot of freedom. Of course I tried to paint his way, but his way of teaching wasn’t a step by step, and it gave huge freedom and one day, I made “my masterpiece”…. And felt free and sooooo happy! There was MY painting! MY “baby”! How did I make it? I tried to paint somewhat the way the teacher did, but “my way” with “my subject” and the colors that I liked, without copying everything. So I think that when you follow a course with someone, you get the best results for your own progress when you try to apply some parts of their method and way of seeing and you mix it up with your very own subject, with your colors you like. Pick out some ingredients that fit you. Don’t take the whole menu. You don’t need to have their type of brush, and their colors, their whole method of painting to succeed….
The best way is to apply what Austin Kleon says in his book “Steal like an artist”: Nothing is original, so embrace influence, school yourself through the work of others, remix and reimagine to discover your own path. Take what you like about the ways other artists paint, their colors you like, and mix it with the other stuff you like 😉
André Gide once said, “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.” Everything has already been done before, but not by you ! “Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas.” (Austin Kleon)
So I try to make classes where I leave a lot of freedom to find your style…. But of course that can’t work for everyone. And that’s fine…
Practice Practice Practice…. It’s the only way to get better at what you want to get better at.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Or like Steven Pressfield says:
“Put your Ass where your HEART wants to be.”
You want to be a painter? Move your body to grab your paints and paint. You want to be a sketcher? Move your ass to your sketchbook and start sketching…
So let’s make a RestArt weekend: a weekend of “Rest” and “Art” to finish the week. The perfect combination to fuel your creativity and your mood.
Here’s a picture of my “baby” I made in Venice in 2007.
I mixed up Bernhard Vogel’s way to paint, with my own way….
So the conclusion of this blogpost is that I still have a lot to learn about teaching practices. If you have suggestions on how to show and expIain in a more didactical way I would be happy to read them! 😀
Hello Barbara, I wanted to comment after receiving this in an abridged email form. I wanted to say – please don’t stop teaching freedom! One of my biggest disappointments in all the online art classes out there is that they don’t teach skills which you apply loosely to a brief they give you to interpret, but rather teach you how to paint their painting. I think your teaching is magnificent. The only reason I haven’t done your new classes is because I can’t afford a Skillshare membership anymore and I think I’ve used all the free months I’m entitled to!
Thank you so much dear Jodie ! I really feel happy to read you enjoyed my classes and am very sorry to read that you can’t afford the Skillshare membership anymore. I hope your situation will improve. I will make some more You Tube tutorials for you in the meantime.
I love the way you paint. I wish you would go on your own and teach and charge a minimum amount instead of giving large sums to 101 and skillshare. j They make it hard for people who just want you to teach them. I would rather pay per class or per month than go with them. I am leery of their methods. Just for you. Jane
Thank you dear Jane! I have to look around to find a way to organise that. How to build classes on my website…. that’s a lot of work for me and difficult to organise because I don’t have a lot of traffic to my website…
Yes. I feel this also. I only want Barbara!!!
I am an older man and painting is my hobby. I use whatever colors I want. The freedom to do so may be easier as I get older. Your painting information is a great inspiration to me. Keep up the great stuff that you do.
Thank you Gerry.
It’s true that it gets easier when we get older. When I was younger I spend my time looking for clear instructions and rules about how to do things. I was afraid to experiment
Hello Barbara, thank you for this long mail and let me give you my point of view as a beginner. I’ve been painting for just 1 year now, and I think that I’m like a little kid, who is struggling to learn writing and reading : I just understood how to use a brush, colors and paper, but my handwriting is still hesitant, I stumble on some letters and I need references to reproduce. Just like when I was a little girl, I was used to do ‘gros pâtés’ as my beloved teacher said. She was a very kind person and reassured my mother saying that as I was a child from the end of year, it was quite usual that those kids were much clumsier than those from spring. At that time, I was ‘saved’ by a friend that was elder than me and had a delicious way of forming letters, I learned a lot from her and stopped to do ‘pâtés’ after a while.
All that to say, that as beginners, we desperetly need references to build our manner(s) to paint, which is for me a way of handwriting. Imitation is a step, but not the ultimate one of course, it’s a way to improve and to learn. I have applied that step of imitating elders in many areas of learning, even in program coding.
The challenge is to get out of imitation and your approach of teaching and art practicing is a very good path to find one’s way of handwriting in watercolor (or other techniques).
On the way in my journey to art, I take notes, putting on paper (mostly reverse side of my apprentice pieces) my thoughts, emotions and difficulties after drawing and painting something, as well as technical aspects (brushes, mix of colors, paper etc…), that helps a lot to progress.
Thank you for reading me and teaching me freedom in painting.
@antinoe_alba on Insta
Thank you very much Françoise. I like to read how people experience and learn.
Of course imitating other artists and artisans is the way to learn. I dare even say it’s The Only Way to learn how to draw and paint. That’s The Way artists have learned since forever…. Steal like an artist: take what’s worth “stealing” when you’re on your way to find how you want to make your art!
Please tell me if you have ideas on how I can improve my teaching
Thank you very much for your long comment and sharing your journey.
I did the same: taking notes of brushes, colors, emotions, techniques ! It’s a beautiful journey!
I’m very happy with the way you teach watercolor painting : talking more about creativity than pure technique is an approach that I appreciate very much, probably because I already work with a ‘technical’ teacher.
What I love in your style is the way you use the values, maybe that could be a subject for a future course ?
Anyway, thank you Barbara, you are a daily source of inspiration !
Have loved Bernhard Vogel’s work for many years… his colours are so exhuberant. I love your painting which clearly shows his influence but with your own unique delicacy
Thank you so much dear Anne! Do you know the book “steal like an artist” by Austin Kleon? just “steal” from other artists what you like ❣️
Yes, I am ready to pay for a wonderful class of yours!
Also Thankyou for your courageous honesty about your self doubt.
I’m facing this about my whole life really including my art.
I think it’s just the bully unhealthy part of our mind that was put into our little innocent selves.
We’re standing up for ourselves little by little, and we can be entirely whoever we happen to be and no one can save us or destroy us now except ourselves.