Once upon a time artists would study under a master artist, adopt his technique, mix paint and learn how their teacher approached and dealt with the various commissions that came into his workshop. Sadly this method is no longer practiced in today's art colleges.
When I first started out on my journey to become an artist, I didn’t have a clue how to start a painting or how to approach a drawing for that matter. I didn’t even know what an illustrator was. Fortunately I had a great high school art teacher. His chosen medium was watercolor. Through his instruction I was able to produce work and derive a small income after a few short months of study. While I did have the raw talent it was through his guidance and constructive criticism that I was able to finally produce professional quality results. After many awards in high school and a subsequent scholarship to art school, I was faced with another challenge.... striking off on my own course. I needed to re-educate myself and apply what I had learned, channel my work, and strike off in a new direction. It happened gradually over the course of two frustrating years during art school. It wasn’t easy to let go of a previous formula that had brought me so much satisfaction, awards and income. Since my background had been in watercolor (mostly landscapes and still-life) the discipline of that medium helped me in my future attempts at redefining my work. Breaking into new subject matter and developing appropriate techniques was crucial. One of the things that kept me going in art school were the other talented students. I sometimes learned more from them than I did from my instructors. Our group would meet for coffee every night at a local coffee shop. Our discussions were about our assignments, jokes about our instructors and general shenanigans. The "mind fake" here was that while we were goofing off, we were still learning. The common angst of our artist insecurity was made less by our shared endeavors. Not only were we our own support group but knowledge of various techniques was acquired and dispersed throughout the group. The competition was friendly and we always celebrated each others accomplishments. Those friendships kept me in school. Happily after all these years, all of my art school buddies are still in the art biz.
In conclusion - keep learning. Surround yourself with good, like-minded friends and associates. Keep your eye on the star and always work toward it.
Today I’m going to meet one of my old art college friends. It has been over thirty years and I know we’ll have a lot to talk about and maybe share a few new techniques. My high school art teacher lives a few miles away and we still see each other from time to time.
My high school art teacher: http://www.fredgraff.com/
My old art college buddy that I'm meeting for coffee: http://www.timbowers.com/