Art Myth One: YOU NEED TALENT TO MAKE A PAINTING
Fact: Some people do have more of an inherent talent, or an aptitude, for art than others. But science proves that to be a expert in a field one needs to spend a lot of hours training.
You can make a great painting just by following teacher’s instructions, as I have seen my students do it hundreds of times in my studio. Worrying about how much talent you do or don’t have is just useless until you at least try, or better yet, practice art consistently for a couple of moths, or even years, before you make that judgement about yourself.
Everyone can learn to master the techniques and fundamental skill set to make a good painting and everyone has the ability to improve their creativity. Having a ‘talent’ is no guarantee that you’ll be a good artist because it takes more than ability to be creative.
Is it talent or discipline?
The best and well known artists spent years practicing and if we had to choose talent versus discipline, always take the latter, it will take you further along the path of art career.
Degas is quoted as saying: “Everyone has talent at 25. The difficulty is to have it at 50.”
“What distinguishes a great artist from a weak one is first their sensibility and tenderness; second, their imagination, and third, their industry.” – John Ruskin.
Art Myth Two: IF YOU CAN’T DRAW, YOU CAN’T PAINT
Fact: A painting is not a drawing that is colored in and a drawing isn’t a painting that hasn’t been colored in yet, they are two different forms of visual art.
As a form of art, painting involves its own set of skills. Even if you were an expert at drawing, you’d need to learn how to paint.
Some artists like to complete a whole set of detailed drawings to use as reference before starting the painting, but other don’t and it’s fine. Other artists do drawings directly onto their canvas before they start to paint, but it’s not the rule of thumb. There is no rule that says you must draw before you paint if you don’t want to.
It is great to draw, but it is a different ball game compared to painting
Drawing is not just an initial step in making a painting, it is a different way of creating art. Having drawing skills will definitely help with your painting, but if you hate pencils and charcoal, this doesn’t mean you can’t establish a composition in paint, like most impressionists did.
Never let the belief that you “can’t even draw a straight line” stop you from discovering the enjoyment that painting can bring. More than that, there are a number of ways to bypass the drawing and still have a great composition in painting.
“Painting embraces all the 10 functions of the eye – darkness, light, body and color, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest.” — “The Wisdom of Leonardo da Vinci”.
Art Myth Three: EVERY PAINTING MUST BE PERFECT
Fact: Requiring a painting you make to be absolutely perfect is an unrealistic goal. You’re never going to achieve it, so you become too scared to even try. The perfect painting has not been made.
Instead of aiming for perfection, strive for every painting to teach you something, experiment and try something new just to see what happens. Challenge yourself by tackling new subjects, approaches, or things that are ‘too difficult’.
What’s the Worst That Can Happen? You waste some paint and some time, but you would get a valuable practical lesson instead. Sure, it can be frustrating when you don’t achieve something you like, but as the proverb goes, “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”
Have a different look at the failure
If you just don’t like your painting, try to paint out the ‘controversial detail.’ Leave it overnight and you may have big progress in the morning. There are times when it’s best to simply put the painting aside for much longer, or just paint over and move on. But never accept defeat! In most cases you will either win or learn, and either one is great. Read more about how you can handle failure in this article.
Ultimately, if you become famous enough, museums will be so delighted to have any work by you that they’ll hang paintings that were unfinished or just rough studies, not just the ones you’d considered finished and good. You’ve seen them – those paintings where part of the canvas is still bare, except for perhaps a line drawing showing what the artist was going to put there.
“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” — Salvador Dali.
Art Myth Four: SMALL CANVASES ARE EASIER TO PAINT THAN LARGE CANVASES
Fact: Different canvas sizes have their own set of challenges, require different instruments, and techniques. There may not even be a difference in the time taken to finish painting a small canvas or a big one.
Miniatures are tiny, but they certainly do not take only a few minutes to finish! (And you’ll never get a miniature done if you don’t have a steady hand and sharp eye.)
One of my personal all time favorite painters, James Whistler produced numerous small oils, some as tiny as three by five inches. One collector described these as “superficially, the size of your hand, but, artistically, as a large as a continent”.
Small paintings can be tricky
It is always physically harder to paint a smaller painting with a certain degree of accuracy and detail. While a larger painting is very easy to make if you use larger brushes and gesture strokes. And do not forget, the larger the painting, the easier it grabs the viewer’s attention.
“Can you believe it is not at all easier to draw a figure of about a foot high than to draw a small one? On the contrary, it is much more difficult.” — Said Van Gogh, and I cannot agree more.
The really important question most artists have is whether large or small paintings fit your space better.
Art Myth Five: THE MORE AND THE BRIGHTER COLORS YOU USE, THE BETTER
Fact: Contrast and tone are more important than the number of colors used. Mixing a lot of colors together in a painting is a recipe for creating mud.
And if every color in the painting is equally bright and saturated, where would the focal center of the painting be found?
It’s easy to fill your paintbox with lots of colors and it’s certainly tempting given the range that is available. But every color has its own ‘personality’ or characteristics and you need to know exactly what it’s like before moving onto another, or mixing it with another. Knowledge of how a color behaves gives you freedom to concentrate on other things.
Learn the colors from nature
I always recommend to learn from nature. A typical landscape requires fairly neutral colors. Everything depends on whether you want to achieve realistic effect or rather convey an experience and paint an impressionistic scene.
Let us have a look at the paintings of Rembrandt, full of earthy browns and yellows. It’s hard to find anyone who would argue that he should have ‘livened’ up his paintings with more colors. Instead, his limited palette adds to the moodiness.
“Nature contains the elements, in color and form, of all pictures, as the keyboard contains the notes of all music. But the artist is born to pick, to choose, and group… these elements, that the result may be beautiful.” — James Whistler.
I hope this short article inspired you to have a second look at your art block, and reconsider some hindering myths that might have stopped you from creating beautiful pieces.
Leave a comment or find me on social media, if you have any questions about paintings, canvases, painting supplies, and art in general. I’m not selling anything, so my advice will not be affected by affiliation to any brand or store. In this post you can get a few ideas of how to improve your painting and start making quick progress. And if there is any additional information you need, I’d be happy to share, just let me know.
And, as one of the coolest painters said: “All you need to paint is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind.”