Sep 3, 2012

Be "Original"

Sharon Teal Coray


Years ago I held a workshop where all of my students painted a “still-life” that represented their life. I wanted them to make a personal statement about what they valued and what gave them inspiration or what meant the most to them in their lives. Each item they included in their painting had to represent something to them.

Items they could use were mementos, hobbies, special accomplishments or interests they had or just about anything but it had to represent something in their life. They would be painting their feelings and creative expressions though the items they selected.

It was a fun workshop, the first thing I did was to have each student bring several personal things that they wanted to include in their still life. Then as a class we learned how to set up each students still life and I photographed it.

We did 4-5 different set-ups for each student.

Then they had to choose one to paint. I did this for one reason, and that was to get my students away from copying others artwork. My beginner students would copy form calendars and greeting cards to learn from but as they progressed I wanted them to get on the “original” track so to say. Copying was a very important step to learning to “see” but once you have learned this it is imperative that you move on and start doing your own thing using your own creative imagination!

No matter how much time or how hard you may struggle with copying a painting, in the end it is not really art, it is just a copy of someone else’s idea and creativity.

True art comes from inside the person who is painting it. Anyone can learn how to copy but, only when you start to paint from within, developing your own style and painting your own feelings can you really be called an artist.

If you are someone who wants to become a professional artist you first have to learn to paint like one. You have to be “original” and there is no way of getting around that if you want to succeed.

If your goal is to enter contests you need to understand what the judges will be looking for. They like artists to be honest, original, personal, sensitive, and technically sound. Not cute, clumsy, banal, slick, commercial, simplistic, sensational, sentimental or arbitrary work!. Your paintings should have character and they must have “soul”.

The viewer must be moved by the artist’s vision not by his cleverness. There must be consistency, for consistency makes the great artist. Every square inch on your canvas must be well done; a second rater will cut corners.

When Theodore Wolff, art critic for the Christian Science Monitor juried the Utah Women’s Artist Exhibit years ago, he repeated this comment several times; “I have seen hundreds of paintings that look like this one and I don’t see anything individual here.”

There is a message here for the struggling student of art; Get original…paint what your feeling, the sooner you get away from copying, the slick, the sentimental and the commercial the sooner you will be known as an “artist”.

My life by Sharon Teal-Coray

This is the painting I did along with my students. These are all real things I set up. The skull is real, my father-in-law was a Doctor and had the whole skeleton hanging in his office. We inherited it! Lucky us! :)
The three small pots represented my children. The large pitcher is my husband. The two feathers were my mother and father. The brushes represented my students. The painting represented my love for painting. The tubes of paint represented my 3 pets. The knife represented me.

The many folds and changes in direction of the fabric represents my whole life.

The skull represented the life God gave me, and the reminder that is is short and I need to use it wisely to glorify him.

If you paint your still-life send a photo of it to me and I will post it here! God Bless

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed this article! I used to do this when I was younger but have not looked at items in terms of what they represent, in years. Time to try to climb outside my box!

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