Friar’s Artist Tips: Dont’ Listen to the Rule-Makers

As if there aren’t enough Rule-Makers in life (at the office, at church, at school), there are also Rule-Makers in the art world.  People who tell you how you “should”, or “shouldn’t” paint.     Don’t listen to them.

For example, there are   “pleine air” purists” who will tell you that you can’t possibly paint from a photo.  The colors aren’t natural, in order to gain the full experience, you have to go outdoors to actually “be there in person” to get a sense of the painting.

Well, if your idea is sitting outside on a hard rock, fighting bugs, in constantly changing sunlight, and waiting for the damp paper to dry, then go right ahead.  Whatever floats your boat.

Personally, my best work has personally been done sitting at my well-lit desk, in a comfortable chair, at home.

Then there are the purists who say never paint from a photo.   I had a teacher tell me you can look at a picture, look at it over and over again, memorize it, become intimately familiar with it, and only THEN…go back to your studio and paint from memory.

Gee…studying a picture over and over.  How much fun is THAT?   

Maybe if you’ve done this all your life, and you’re that good, fine.  But if you’re learning (like we all are), how can you possibly be expected to draw a perfect rendition of a cow or a sailboat from memory?   Come on! 

When I tried to listen to this boson and paint from memory, I ended up with garbage.   Then I found a better teacher, and went back to painting from photos, and I started to improve.   Actually, that’s the point at which I started selling my work.    

Or what about “Never buy green paint.  Always mix your own greens from blue and yellow”?

Well, sorry.  I happen to like Sap Green, it’s one of the pigments I use the most.  It makes my life easy, and my paintings turn out nice, and people buy them.  (What are they  gonna do, have me arrested by the Pigment Police?)

Or what about framing and matting?  Some art shows wont’ allow colored mattes.   Some will.    It all depends on the rules that some old Aunt McBiddy might have arbitrarily made up on the Lady Auxiliary Arts Committee.  

(Whatever.) I’ll frame things the way I want.  If they allow it,  fine.  If they don’t, well, then I won’t enter that art show.  

There are lots of examples like this.   So who’s opinions are  right?  The Rule Makers’, or your own? 

The answer is “yes”.

Nobody says you have to listen to the Rule Makers.   You can paint anyway you want to, there is no right or wrong way.  

After all, isnt’ that the whole point of art?  The rules are there are no rules.    

Now go paint something and have fun.

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