Your newly-humbled blogger

I am a writer. Often, when I’m in a group of artists and I identify myself that way, they tell me that makes me an artist. I can be in the club. And it’s not that I don’t agree. But I realized that I really have no idea how you guys do what you do, and I went out and bought some acrylic paints and brushes.

This is a long-delayed gratification. I’ve always wanted to try painting, but it’s an expensive thing to try. So I bought red, yellow, blue, raw umber, and white and came home to try painting on cardboard. I thought it wasn’t such an expensive thing. Until I tried to paint and realized that a) I had no idea what I was doing and b) what I was doing absolutely sucked. That is when it seemed like a waste of money.

I’m not throwing in the paint just yet. Quite the contrary. I instead bought gel medium and better brushes and a pad of canvas. I also borrowed a book on acrylics from a friend. I’m not hopeful that anything great will come of it; I enjoy just messing around with the colors.

But I have gained something: greater respect for artists and a dose of personal humility. The respect thing clearly comes from the experience of how hard it is to apply paint to canvas (or cardboard) in the most basic way. As to the second quality, I’ve never been that person to walk around a museum muttering “I could do that.” Yet I do basically saunter around judging the art I see to be good or bad, and–god help me–I couldn’t do the worst of it. Well, maybe I could do the worst of it if I tried really, really hard.

So there you have it, a newly-humbled art blogger. Writer.

13 thoughts on “Your newly-humbled blogger

  1. aw. Enjoy! Art is about the use of the material towards the immaterial, or somesuch something. One of my painting professors always told me that my efforts are lost as soon as I start counting and measuring out the paint. This is one of the paradoxes of being a good, “starving” artist.

  2. Your post made me smile, not about you being humbled, but because I remembered my first attempt at acrylics at 39. MUD! I got just mud and I didn’t have a clue. Got to start somehwere no matter how humble 🙂

  3. So I tried my hand at it again tonight, mostly because you all sounded so damn encouraging. And you know what? Not so bad. I’ve advanced from a kindergarten level to about 4th grade… 🙂

  4. First: Acrylics suck. You will not enjoy yourself with them.

    Second: The fact that you can’t make art doesn’t mean you can’t decide what’s good and what isn’t. Anyone can decide that. It’s one of the things that’s great about art: If you have eyes, you can see it and judge it. That’s all it takes.

    Third: Acrylics suck. Oils are great even to start with, but they’re intimidating because they’re expensive and there are a few key things you need to know about before you start. Actually, they’d probably help with acrylics, too: You need medium (I guess your gel qualifies), a palette, and palette knives for mixing.

    Anyway, even if acrylics suck, have fun with them. If you want a lesson in oils, feel free to write to me and you can come by my studio and I’ll let you play with some paints and stuff.

  5. Hum, don’t be too humbled 🙂

    This is why it’s called ‘an art’, or heck why we call things ‘professions’ — because it’s not something that the (relative) layman can do.

    I’m sure most painters can’t write as proficiently as you.

    I have respect for other artists!

    (Forgive the spam… I keep forgetting to sign up to the comments…)

  6. I think acrylics prob are a good starting place for me (even if I do discover later how much they suck) just because I am such a beginner.

    As I progress though, months or light years from now, I just may take you up on that generous offer.

  7. It’s a myth that beginners should start with low-quality tools. It’s a myth which should be banished to the hinterlands. Imagine trying to learn piano on an out-of-tune wreck where every third key sticks. It can be done — hell, Irving Berlin only ever played the black keys and couldn’t read music — but unless you happen to be a great genius, you’ll be turned off by the crappy tool.

    So the idea that you should start with acrylics because you don’t know what you’re doing is false. Oils are miles easier than acrylics. Trust me. I avoided oil paints for over ten years because I thought they’d be too difficult, and when I finally got to them I felt like a total idiot for having avoided them so long.

    I mean, you may not want to keep fooling around anyway. Putting paint on a surface might not be your thing, because you might be a sane, normal person. Nothing wrong with that. I’d just hate to see you turned off by cheap tools.

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