While I was working recently on American Artist's new special issue, The Complete Painter's Handbook (order now!), I had a little debate with myself. The question at hand: If you are working to learn how to paint, is it better to focus on following the practices of one artist, or to learn painting from many?
|Down East Reflections by JC Airoldi.
Airoldi is one of the professional artists who shares advice
on painting in the upcoming American Artist special issue,
The Complete Painter's Handbook.
The Complete Painter's Handbook falls squarely into the second camp. It features dozens of artists sharing advice on how to paint in oil, watercolor, acrylic, pastel, and numerous other media. Some artists' are featured in long articles; others drop by just to share a few words of encouragement and offer a painting tip or two.
The thinking behind this style of learning is that diversity of opinions and methods is crucial for an artist-student. I think it's a terrific way to learn, because everyone can find something new that fits with his or her practice. And if you're really eager to learn, there's a lot here for you. Whether you are a growing artist who needs a little more refinement to bring your fine art to the next level; an artist with experience in one medium looking to learn how to paint in another; or someone who has only recently started painting, there will be professional artists whose advice can help your art progress.
But this isn't the only way to go. There's also the school of thought that the best way to learn to paint is to apprentice yourself to a great painter (or devotedly study the books, DVDs, and teachings of one artist) in order to master one approach to oil painting, watercolor, etc. The goal, of course, is not to just emulate that artist's style but to equip yourself with strong enough tools that you can build an accomplished and original practice of your own.
So what do you think? There's certainly value in both approaches–it's important to try many things and also to pick something and stick with it. But which is paramount? How do you prefer to learn? Leave a comment and let me know!