Business of Art - Style and Substance

Before last year I had always looked to memories of my grandparent's beloved National Geography magazines with their hyper-realistic images as proof of the fact that, "I can't draw." This was even though I saw and acknowledged and appreciated and maybe even loved other's work that was anything but photorealistic.


Which is why a nugget from my Intro to Studio Art class was so valuable. This was not a class about art technique. It's point was not to teach a student "how to draw/ paint/ sculpt" but to simply allow the student opportunities to draw and paint and sculpt. 

I went into the class wanting to "learn how" so I was frustrated that I was in the "Art for Dummies" class. Yep. That's what I called it in my head. Because I say really rude things in my head. All the time. 

Anyway, I stayed in this particular class at the urging of my friend MJ... and because the other class didn't work with my babysitter's availability. 

It was during one of the first classes that the instructor answered a question that I hadn't heard. It was one of those situations that you tune in only because of realize that the answer applies to you. Looking back, I assume the other student asked, "I want to do x but I don't know if that will work. What do you think? Will it work?"

The instructor, who requested that we address him as "Teacher" began by telling the student that he didn't possess the answer to that question. He explained that it was the decision of the artist.  

He went on to explain that as long as everything is similar and cohesive and intentional then that is the artist's "style" and as such the artist can do whatever it is that she deems appropriate. 

And it seems simple. The same judgey voice that called the class "Art for Dummies" answered Teacher's reply with a very sharp, "Thanks. For nothing. Not a helpful answer. " 

But me, the quiet real me who was sitting in the class with one earbud in listening to Sylvan Esso, she started nodding her at and saying, "Of course."

It was the thing the gave me permission to say, "I don't draw photo realistic images. That's okay. That's not my style."

That day- I didn't immediately have a style. Today, as I write this post I'm still working on honing my style. But tomorrow and all the tomorrows after that, I will be able to look back on that day as the day I started to claim my title of artist.