Can Art be Taught? Or is Creating Good Art Limited to the Naturally Gifted?

Published on Nov. 1st 2007

120 Minutes Can art be taught?

Can you teach someone to be a painter, a sculptor, a photographer. . . or are painters, sculptors, and photographers born with their talent already?

The quick answer is yes, I believe art can be taught. Many aspects of art, including the foundational principles of creating good art, are taught every day.

I can teach someone how to hold a brush and block in a form, how to design a pleasing composition and separate the foreground of a painting from the background using atmospheric perspective.

Those are rules that can be memorized and followed, and there are countless art books which teach all that and more—I have many of those books myself.

So I believe that art principles can be taught. . . but principles often aren’t enough. For instance, there’s also the lofty subject of color.

Where I live in the midwest, it’s been difficult to find teachers with sufficient knowledge of how to use color, and many times artists are left to their own devices—although that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I say that because a large part of making art comes from within the artist, and those things can never be taught—such as artistic intuition and a naturally creative instinct. These are skills an artist is born with.

When it comes right down to it, if I had to choose between being born with artistic instinct and intuition vs. textbook art lessons, I would choose the former hands down. It seems to me that if an artist has intuition and instinct, they’ll always find their way.

To see more artwork by Chris, visit her website at

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