A different kind of painting tip!

Workshops teach techniques. Every workshop instructor will have their own method of painting. So you might be taught to never do ‘this’ in one workshop, and to absolutely do it in another.
Art has no rules. Anything can be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, often only depending on timing or intention.

There is too much talk about ‘best painter’, ‘master painter’, this and that. People being put on pedestals, like they’re deities. If you classify people you create hierarchies and that creates suffering.
Looking for validation outside yourself is tricky business. If you try to paint like so and so, you’re setting yourself up to suffer because you’re not so and so.
Same thing happens if you’re painting to be ‘liked’. It is certainly good to get validation from your peers (notice I did not say followers) but not if you’re painting to impress someone or to get into competitions. Again, you’re setting yourself up for suffering! Be mindful of your motivations. Look inside of you for guidance.

I’d love to quote my favorite poet here when asked by a student if his work is good or not:
‘A work of art is good if it has grown out of necessity. In this manner of its origin lies its true estimate and value: there is no other.’
Rainer Maria Rilke (Letters to a Young Poet)

In other words, it comes from a deeper place inside you. You have to paint, you have no choice! You will find subject matter that moves you, because what you love you’ll paint better. You need to express yourself that way and that in turn makes your art real.

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17 thoughts on “A different kind of painting tip!

  1. cathy belleville

    I needed this now–thank you. Our internal compasses are so easily fouled. đŸ™‚

  2. Watercolorsfromholland

    Absolutely right, I have the feeling some people paint for the likes, like a sort applause they receive. of course it is nice to get some. But quid often politeness makes it wrong. Also the distance to the favorite painters is short these days. The applauding audience always compare other people watercolors with the top boys! So everyone is doing the same at the end. Red stoplights in the rain, white windshields, zebra paths.

    1. frankeber Post author

      So, so true! It is actually quite disconcerting what’s been going on I think. There are people out there who have based their entire career on copying someone else’s style and paintings. The worst part is: they are successful! It actually works!
      I agree with you: there is no value in likes, absolutely everything is ‘great’ on social media because nobody dares to ever say anything negative for fear it will bite them in the butt down the road…its all bullshit to me and I stay away as much as I can! thanks for your honesty, I know am not the only one! Thank God.

  3. Heike Covell

    Usually, the subject matter that I truly enjoy painting turns out best. Have taken numerous workshops over the years and there is always some advice, that sticks with me but one should not give up one’s own style/way to paint. Am enjoying your newsletters, Heike Covell

    1. frankeber Post author

      Thanks, Heike! I always say workshops can help but too many workshops can hurt! It all comes down to painting time. thanks for your comment!

  4. Phil Kinsey

    Good post Frank. I wanted to add I think the paper, brush, paints manufacturers exploits and promotes these stereotypes. I get product endorsement but the materials are not that tied to artistic integrity as you could be led to believe. No magic brush, paper or paint. Painting I think is a very personal journey when done correct. Only technique and principles / elements of design can be taught. All else is very personal and idiosyncratic. Ruskin and Robert Henry stressed the avoidance of formula in painting. They even stressed finding new solutions to painting problems in each new painting . Lastly the drawing. It is not stressed enough. Most demonstrations start with paint application. There sits that boring old drawing already completed. drawing does not sell as well as painting! Follow your heart not the current workshop /watercolor society crew. Read Californian artist, the late Edward Reeps, “The Content of Watercolor”.

    1. frankeber Post author

      Excellent comment, Phil. I completely agree. Whenever money is involved, the artistic integrity usually goes out the window. You can’t blame the artist that takes the offer: making a living from art is no small feat and it is so, so important to have your name in a catalog. It is no longer about the art or talent: it is about who gives the most money to facebook to get the most ‘likes’, who spends thousands on adverts in magazines to get ahead in the game. Artists are no longer ‘starving’, they are wealthy people with a pension on their second career or bored housewives with money and time on their hands. The whole scene is diluted. We actually embrace mediocrity! thanks, I’ll look for Reeps…

  5. Chuck Wallace

    Frank,
    Thanks for posting this well thought through evaluation of the climate in the art world currently. The truths you shared were timely. I’ve actually thought about how in many of the art shows the winner’s paintings seem to be the unusual or odd ones even if it doesn’t seem like that great a painting. Of course, I know it is all very subjective and the eye of the beholder. But I thought once, ‘well I could probably paint something weird and different’ and maybe it would win the show. But thankfully that thought didn’t last long since that is not who I am or what I want to create.
    It is so true that many artists have that deep sense in their soul that they ‘have’ to paint – they have to create things of beauty that will touch the hearts of others. That sense sometimes spooks me because it is such a strong internal drive but would probably make no sense to some people.
    Thanks for this post.

    1. frankeber Post author

      Hi Chuck,
      Thank you for this reply! It is refreshing to know that there are many people out there sharing my sentiments. I am glad you do too and what you say is completely accurate. I also noticed that the ‘painterly’ watercolors don’t win much in art shows. It is always the overly tight, hyper-realistic painting or the abstract, the ‘weird one’, as you put it. I know many painters who wouldn’t submit to these shows, arguably some of the best ones don’t. I am beginning to understand why! But, as you wrote, it is all very subjective and there probably are other reasons why the same people win most of the awards in all the shows. In the end, the competitions can’t be the end goal for any serious artist. Maybe they serve as a stepping stone.

  6. Selwyn Wilson

    Hey Frank… Driving they SR… Waving hi… On our way to Napa… Hope you are well….

    Sent from my iPhone

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