I’ve recently started to realize that one has to simply learn to be happy with what they produce as far as art is concerned.
I’ve been looking a lot at some of my favourite contemporary artists as well as some of the classical artists that have always inspired me – my work will never be like their work. I could imitate styles and copy their paintings and drawings but doing that would be doing a disservice to me unless it was for the sole purpose of learning technique. I have to learn from these masters and take what I learn to do what I love… being happy with the lessons and successes and letting failures slide – realizing that nothing is learned without them.
I would say that my time spent at art school was almost an entirely negative experience… I spent the whole time, I felt, struggling to do what I love and what comes naturally to me. I found very often that when my work was critiqued, it was often dismissed as “craft” – I don’t really remember from all four years spent there, any helpful pointers as far as how I could somehow magically take it that step further and make it “art”. In my last year of art school I had one teacher tell me that if I couldn’t make “art” by the end of the year that I wouldn’t graduate – when I asked for clarification he simply walked away. I won’t go blaming other people for the awful experience I had there because ultimately it was my choice how to use that time and those resources to my advantage… but I didn’t walk away from that school feeling that I’d learned much at all. I wouldn’t recommend the Fine Arts program at that school to anyone.
I came away from art school feeling that my work should be somehow more than what it was. I was told on several occasions that I was a “technician” and that my desire to paint and draw in the old style wasn’t the way to go if I wanted to make art. In the end it was my fault for letting them brainwash me into thinking that this was true… as a result, my art was unintentionally set aside and I decided to carry on in life pretty much without it. It’s funny how that whole technician thing stuck with me though… and by that I don’t mean that it affected me in any serious way, it just followed me – a little while ago, I was at an art show and a guy I went to art school with introduced me to someone as a draftsman. The person he was introducing me to started talking about how they tried drafting in high school and didn’t really like it. I’m sure you can probably fill in the blanks as far as what I felt like saying to my friend at the time.
Over the last few years my work as a Firefighter has afforded me the luxury of being able to create without worrying about material and studio costs or whether or not it sells… this has been giving me time and resources to play and experiment. I’m still looking to find a style for my work as almost all my pieces are completely different… I’m getting closer and closer with each experiment and that makes me feel pretty excited.