29. Jun, 2015

What is a 'Self Taught Artist'?

This is a little niggle, an itch I've been trying to scratch.  I hear it from time to time and I have wondered what defines a self taught artist.  It would seem from the oracle of google that this is quite a contentious subject!

I come from a long line of artists, it's in the blood!  My grandfather was a graphic designer, as was my uncle and both owned their own business in London where they worked on artwork for big record labels, coca cola and the like.  My distant relatives on the other side of my family also had artists amongst them, one having been hung in the National Gallery, another designed the lion and bees for the famous golden syrup tin.  

So am I a self taught artist?  I went to school and I studied not only GCSE art, but a new albeit brief GCSE 17 in art and A-level art.  I went to art college for 1 year and did all manner of things (not necessarily further education related, but more pub related!).  

When I was at art college I was already drawing animal commissions for people.  I had been for 2 years beforehand.  I didn't learn how to draw at school or even college.  I didn't even learn from my grandfather!  I taught myself the techniques of how to get a good 'fur effect' and how to get the shine on the eyes or nose.  I taught myself how to blend, burnish and layer the graphite.  I taught myself.  

My college art teacher took one look at my animal drawings and tactfully told me to perhaps submit something else for the coursework.  She didn't like the simplicity, no backgrounds or lack of colour.  "They just look like animals floating in mid air!" her words!

I came away from college completely deflated and, I'm sorry to say not having learnt anything new.  It was me that carried on with the drawing, having to satisfy that inner burning desire to draw what ever made my heart leap.  

So, what is a self taught artist?  Well, some would say it is a person who has had no formal training in the subject of art.  Others would say there is no such thing as a self taught artist, unless you have been living all your life on a secluded desert island with no influences or art in sight.  

I believe, a self taught artist is one that, no matter how much formal training they've had, they have carried on their own path with their art.  It is, in my view, someone who has that drive and urge to learn more and seeks out resources to further their skills.  It is an artist who loves art in all its forms and would feel incomplete without it.  

All artists are self taught in some way and I fully believe I am one of them.  I taught myself everything I put into practice today, when doing commissions for people or new pieces for a collection or exhibition.  I have been heavily influenced by other artists and when another artist inspires me, I strive to learn the techniques they have used, be it looking very closely at their work, you tube videos or books.  

So, I am a self taught artist!

(The picture of the bunny was a drawing I did when I was 16 and was the one that my art teacher hated!  I've now put it on greetings cards and they are selling)