Friar’s Artist Tips: If you find a good teacher, latch onto them and whatever you do, don’t let go!

Case in point.  I started semi-serious painting in 1997.   I signed up for art lessons at the local community center with the other artist-wannabees.   The teacher was this 80-year-old eccentric German guy.  He was an excellent painter, but a mediocre teacher.

This was the level of my painting circa October 1997.   It’s based on a photo I took atop of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont.

Eventually, I got fed up with Herr Gunther’s lessons.  I wasn’t learning anything.  I stopped lessons in 1998, and was almost ready to quit painting.   

Luckily, by random chance, I found another teacher who was a cashier at the local art store.  She was a retired painter/graphic artist, who gave lessons from  her basement to small groups of 3-4 people.

I started with her in September 1999, and she was fantastic!  I couldn’t believe how much she taught me.

This was my level of painting as of February, 2000.  It’s a good comparison to the first painting, because the scene is similar (atop Mt. Marcy in the Adirondacks).

 

(Quite a difference from the first one,  huh? )

The point I’m trying to make here is NOT to brag about how quickly I progressed.  But rather to demonstrate the value of a good teacher.  

This was how far she took me in just six months.  (And it wasnt’ a huge time commitment, either).   Just one art class a week.

I bet a lot of you are much better artists than you think.   But maybe you just haven’t found that right teacher/mentor yet.    Someone who can take your raw talent, show you a few tricks, and help unleash your hidden potential.

I was lucky enough to have found my mentor.  I hope you find yours, too.  

And when you do..STAY WITH THEM and absorb everything they can teach you!

P.S. 10 years later, I still keep in touch with my art teacher, even though she lives 4 hours away.  She’s not only a mentor, but she’s become a good friend.  

 

 

 

 

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14 Comments on “Friar’s Artist Tips: If you find a good teacher, latch onto them and whatever you do, don’t let go!”


  1. Hm. First.
    I can see she developed your color sense very quickly. Lovely and atmospheric subtly. Hmm. I may have to find some links for you…these remind me of.. be back later.


  2. http://www.cheltenham-art.com/PrinceCharles.htm

    Okay, there used to be more online of his work, but look at the top two watercolor landscapes.

  3. Friar Says:

    @Janice

    It’s amazing how much on-line instruction and information there is for artists on the internet today (even compared to 5 years ago!).

    Hmm…I see Bonny Prince Charles paints similar subjects as I do (especially the top two landscapes).

    It also shows what I’m doing wrong, in terms of trying to sell my paintings for money.

    I need to have a Great-great-great-great (etc.) grandfather who conquered the Celts in 1066. Mabye then I’d be able to sell my workd for $4 million too!

    (..oh well, at least he gives it to Charity).


  4. Yeah it’s that simple….I think that’s called positioning. 🙂

    If I can ever help with anything paint, just ask.

  5. Friar Says:

    @Janice

    I learn a lot…just by looking at other people’s sites like yours. I especially like the way you show the progress of your paintings, step-by-step.

    Then I go: Ah-haaaaah. So THAT’s how she does it!

  6. Steph Says:

    Very sound advice, Friar! I’ve seen this with my singing (which I’ve since given up though I’m not sure why exactly): I grew up singing and playing music by ear. When I auditioned in university for the concert choir, I’d never sung classical music before. The conductor dismissed me because I couldn’t read a note, let alone clap to what he wanted or sing scales. Instead I sang a song I knew by heart. I was crushed when I didn’t make the cut. But a few days later, he approached me and asked me to join the choir as an alto. That same year, only months later, this conductor took me from opening our first piece (Vivaldi’s Gloria) and having a heart attack because I was so lost to singing a Bach cantata solo with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in front of a full house: music in hand. I received an excellent review in the Spectator. I have never forgotten his influence! I still get emotional about it. He made me see that I was infinitely more capable than I thought and that I could be pushed farther than I thought possible.

    I have applied this mentor tip of yours to writing, as well, and unfortunately, I’ve lost touch with my mentor. Luckily, I now have Rogue and Men with Pens, and a bunch of others!

    I look forward to seeing your paintings in the next few years as well!

  7. Friar Says:

    @Steph

    It’s great that he took you under his wing and allowed you to have another chance. He was smart enough to recognize you had talent. Imagine how differently things would have turned out if you had a crummy conductor who had just sent you home?

    ARGH! I can’t imagine singing in front of a full house (I have a terrible voice…I play guitar and the thought of singing in front of THREE people terrifies me!).

    PS. I’m gonna keep painting, but it might slow down till October (Fishing season starts!)


  8. Friar- Thank you. Hmm…I might have to paint some fish ….in watercolor.

    Yep, need suitable models. Slippery agile ones that glow. 🙂

  9. Friar Says:

    I’ve always want to paint fish…

    I have photos (but only dead that I’ve just caught). I wonder if that would be a suitable model?

    (I guess very few people sketch trout in their natural habitat, eh?)


  10. It’s hard to get the rascals to hold still. Photos come in handy there.

    They lose color real fast, but it can be done with freshly caught ones. I have even done prints with fish. Paint the body , roll it on neat paper. The textures print great.

    We may have to do some fishy paint this summer.


  11. Here here to that!

    Nice story and paintings.

  12. Friar Says:

    @Jaden

    Thanks!

    I wish everyone could find an art teacher as good as mine. We’d see a lot more good painters!

  13. wendikelly Says:

    Friar,
    you are so right about this. I took one painting class in college years ago and since have been self taught…not saying much..self practiced more like it. I learn a lot by getting ideas from looking at on line artists and trying new things, but I would love to have the time to take lessons some day.

    some day, some day some day….
    my candy store’s too big to eat all the candy I want to try…..

  14. Friar Says:

    @Wendi

    Same here. I can focus on painting, and get better at it. Or I can try other hobbies, and be half-assed at everything.

    What I need to do is write a book that Oprah will like. Then I’ll be set for life…I won’t have to work for a living any more and I’ll have all the time to try all the candy the store has to offer 🙂


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