On Sunday I stated that there are three types of artists in the world, but in writing this article I came to the conclusion that there are actually five. You may not agree with me, and that’s completely fine; but I like to be able to see myself from the outside in, and this is one way that I can do that.
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The first type of artist are those just beginning. They haven’t had the opportunity to learn skills such as hand/eye coordination, or even the ability to decipher what their eyes are seeing in order to reproduce it. Their heart is in their work, but they can’t quite tell whether it’s good or not, or what to do to make it better. We were all there once, and I think most of us understand that these beginners represent the future of art, and as such deserve our help and support.
The second type of artist has had their eyes opened to the world of art. They can see what they should be painting or drawing, but their technical skills don’t measure up. This is a tough place for artists to be. Often they’re dissatisfied with their art and with themselves, and many of them leave it behind, thinking that they lack the talent necessary to make it as an artist. Unfortunately these individuals have the most to lose by leaving. They’ll always live with a desire to create, but without the means to express it.
The third type of artist sees and understand the visual world. He or she has also learned to replicate it, crafting works of art that are true to life. Their quality of work is often based on how closely it replicates what we see, and many artists fall into this category – including me, most of the time.
The fourth type of artist has the same abilities as the previous category – to see and replicate the visual world. But instead of replicating, these artists create. They take from what they see and make their own unique art, picking and choosing the elements, colors, lines, and shapes they want to use in their work. Some might think that these artists are less skilled because their art is not as representational, but I disagree. I think it’s merely a different representation of the world we all see.
The fifth type of artist chooses not to see, but still creates. Whether or not these artists passed through the other categories before reaching this point is sometimes hard to say. Their work is not usually based on anything visual, but is an artistic expression of themselves, their ideas, or their emotions. Art in this category can range from whimsical to awe-inspiring or even horrific, much like humanity itself.
As I made these distinctions I realized the place where I want to be. I feel as though I’ve stayed where I am too long as an artist, and that I need to break down the boundaries around my art.
I paint realistically, and I always will to some extent, but my goal now is to create, rather than replicate. And just by realizing that, I’ve opened up new ideas and possibilities in my art.
So back to my original question – what type of artist are you?