I have great respect for the self-taught artist. We learn by failing. We succeed through adversity. We thrive without safety nets. We invent and tinker and experiment. The artist who rises up outside of the formal learning institutions is a unique individual. We have many strengths, the most crucial being that fire in the belly that is where all meaningful art begins.
But we have weaknesses too. Some of us make a bee-line to what we love without building a foundation of knowledge first. The art that is all heart but no bones can sometimes fall flat before it reaches its intended potential. This is kind of a tragic situation. Especially because it can be so easily fixed.
I stand proudly on the self-taught front lines, but I also hold great respect for first principles in most things. Without a backbone, the best idea will stay just that, an idea. Happily, we live in a time when vast amounts of information are at our fingertips. You can self-teach your way through so many things today. And don’t let anyone tell you differently. You may not have your butt in a lecture chair, but some of the most brilliant teachers in the world have an online presence. In some ways, we have the best of both worlds. The freedom to choose to learn exactly what fires us up and the ability to get it imported to our living room.
This course, Intuitive Composition, has been a long time coming for me. It completes a mosaic circle that began with Intuitive Andamento which teaches you that the line can, indeed, make you a better person. But the mosaic arts need the mastery of both line and composition to thrive in the larger contemporary art world.
Our most crucial job as artists is to reach through the substrates and make people feel things. Composition is the key to grabbing people by the shirt collars. The artists who understand how to build pictures that provoke fear or inspire joy are powerful people. If you think of your compositions as a frame for triggering emotion, the next steps will be finding ways to tap into those emotions.
I see art as a giant playground for experimenting with form and shape and color. Other days I see it as great battleground in standing up for ideals. I love writing about art, but at the same time, art is bigger than anything that can be written about it. Nothing replaces the drama of experiencing that first glimpse of a picture that leads your eyes on a visual voyage. Some parts will take your breath away like a rickety old wooden roller coaster. Other parts will be a field of rest, giving your eyes time to breath before circling back to the rhythm again.
The miracle of all this is that you, as the artist, get to re-invent this composition with every valiant effort. Mistakes, successes, triumphs, and embarrassments; they are all getting you closer to that aloof idea of perfection; the act of creation.