“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom. Without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail.”
~ Albert Einstein ~
It’s a miracle that any art gets made at all.
Art education with an entire emphasis on technique and theory is not art training. Technique and theory are only the tools. Exploration, innovation and creativity are really what art-making is all about. Most people turning to the arts as a vehicle of expression are vulnerable to the academics who proselytize that art is far too complex for the student to understand. The student is required to follow a regimen of mechanical copying and a strict adherence of the rules by this kind of instructor. What is lacking in this misinformed and misguided approach to art education is the freedom of expression where the students have right to explore and innovate. In the not so distant past art students were taught not only how to use their tools and develop skill but were also taught and encouraged to develop their own ideas and work.
I am a firm believer in equilibrium in art training. The first thing that should be taught to the student of art are it’s expressive possibilities and then provide them with the proper tools for the direction they wish to pursue. Each artist is unique. Not everyone has the temperament to sit and copy plaster casts for 400 hours albeit an important part of any serious art education. Instead an art education needs to be flexible enough to meet the needs of every student and the community at large.
While it is true that beginners, amateurs and the general public all view “talent” as the skill associated with realism, they also need to be exposed to other possibilities. While realism can be impressive for the untrained eye, it is for the most part not very creative or innovative without the artist making the imagery and subject matter more interesting to look at. There is no thought in copying. One just has to observe the many photographs and videos of “realist” artists watching television as they work. In these cases there is no expression in their work nor is their any connection with the intangible.
Those seeking an alternative to “mechanical-ism” will often fall prey to educators who lack any form of formal training. The student is informed that they need not learn how to draw and that technical abilities are not necessary to be an “artist”. The students are just told to express themselves. They are told that anyone can be an artist without any kind of training. One approach has far too many rules and a trickle of knowledge while the other has no rules or knowledge of any kind.
Both are extremes and somewhere in the middle lies the truth.