A while ago, an artist, showed me his work and asked for some guidance. I had a look at their paintings on line and could see good evidence of sincere effort; we agreed to meet. I began thinking about what I should talk about when we got together. My train of thought drifted back to my early painting days.
It’s been forty years since I took up the challenge to become an artist, starting out with nothing more than an inspiration. At first it was reading art books, looking at paintings and rubbing shoulders with artist friends. Style couldn’t be taught, I was warned. You must study shadow effects, learn how to draw trees and become knowledgeable about the properties of paint, they said. And they were right of course. There is a lot to learn: the kind of knowledge that anyone serious about painting must cover. Much later, I would teach those basics to fledging artists at summer schools and workshops.
Experience is a great teacher; progressing in three different media, plein air painting, giving instruction and exhibiting at art shows eventually created more questions than answers. Understanding the importance of listening to one’s inner voice and learning to interpret takes on a new significance. Also, with practice comes the confidence of knowing that the painting will work itself out, and the expectation that it will reflect the desired intent (making a statement). Occasionally, I produce a work that surprises me; I may even feel that I have reached a new personal plateau. That’s why I continue to paint! The camaraderie of artist buddies and painting experiences are wonderful, but they come second to the satisfaction of surpassing myself in my work. . . .
OK, so this has been a nice journey down memory lane. However, I’m still unsure what to tell the nice artist that’s looking for some help with their work. I guess I will do what I always do: show by example, be honest and encourage them to seek their own way. The benefits that can come from a kind word and a positive suggestion can last a lifetime: I know because I have been helped by some very kind artists along the way too.
Charlie’s new work may be seen at The Ten Collective Show in Almonte, ON, April 4 and 5, 2020
The Art of Charles Spratt