Bringing Art Making Into Your Life
There is some art you just can’t make at art school. Why? Because you will FAIL.
Most art schools have a very particular idea of what it’s ok to make. Work that fits into the currently accepted view of what’s cool, cutting edge or new. Or even worse: at some art schools they are just stuck in a big rut of what was fashionable when the lecturers felt cool.
I loved art school but did feel constricted and molded.
In my first year at art school there was a girl as young as me [ barely 17]. I remember one of our first projects was to draw an object in as many different ways as possible. When I saw her giant drawing of a peach I am pretty sure my mouth was hanging open in amazement. You could practically feel that peach fuzz! My own drawings looked like shriveled up dead things by comparison. Her skills were amazing. She didn’t last the year. She just couldn’t get into the frame of mind they wanted her to be in. Putting her work into the context of the time and current art theories. She just wanted to paint beautiful pictures. This is not allowed at art school!
Another friend went to a prestigious art school to study painting. She was a canny girl and quickly realised that the lecturers wanted a very specific type of painting, [1980’s Abstract Expressionism]. So she would, as she put it ” whack out a few big ones of those at assessment time, then paint what I wanted the rest of the time”.
Obviously a lot of good stuff happens at art school too, especially if you have great lecturers, but they do have a tendency to push people into a one shape fits all mold.
A couple of years ago I went back to a vocational institute to do ceramics, which I had never managed to do at art school. They take almost the opposite tack, teaching you excellent technique, but with little judgment about your ideas. I made an extremely traditional sculpture of a dog and felt almost naughty doing it. No deep and meaningful ideas: just a dog. Fabulous.
So at the end of this whinge, my message to you is make what you want to make. Don’t try to please that imaginary audience, don’t worry about what your family or friends think of it. You can listen to advice and take it on if you think it will help you and abandon it if you think you are being repressed by it.
Fantastic art isn’t made by someone trying to please others. It’s made by people following their own thread.