I have never studied art. Yep…I am a 100% self taught artist.
I have never studied art under a governing body higher than GCSE level, that is. I am proud to be a self taught artist! For my GCSE art qualification I was required to produce a wide variety of pieces that were to be judged by an examiner. For each project I had to find a meaning for every brush stroke, explanation for every colour and thought process behind every idea. If i’m honest, I totally faked it! My focus was more about fulfilling the tick boxes of each module, not about expression, enjoyment or even creativity.
I decided that I didn’t want to study fine art conventionally at college for the fear of losing my passion for it. I just enjoyed drawing and didn’t want to kill my passion for it.
Drawing very much took a back seat in my life but I still sketched when I felt particularly engaged and inspired by something.. This has left me with a sketchbook that now acts as a visual journal of interests over the years, covering everything from the The Simpsons dvd cases to warped portrait attempts of my friends! Not flattering! These were all totally unfocused as far as technique goes… but still demonstrate how much I was able to learn purely through practise.
A safari trip to Africa left me inspired to celebrate the animals I had seen and learnt so much about. My first attempt at drawing an elephant left me feeling quite proud and I soon learnt that the more personal investment I had into what I was drawing, the more effort and time I put in. As a self-taught artist it is now paramount that I feel emotionally engaged with what I am drawing.
I have never felt like I am qualified to call myself an artist. At my first art fair I felt like a fraud. When you dive into the art world there are all kinds of conversations and accusations being thrown around about realism and drawing from photos. Although at first this crushed my confidence I have since come to a realisation that I can’t let it bother me. I do what I do because I love it and because I love to celebrate animals.
If I can create a portrait of someones pet that brings their character to life and gives the owners joy, that is all that really matters. If I can sketch the endangered animals I love and draw attention to the environmental crisis they are fighting against then I am happy. As time goes on I feel I have such a huge journey ahead to try and grow into my own style and try different mediums. Life is too short to over analyse and worry too much about others opinions.
Have a go! There are many successful self-taught artists out there.
Fake it till you make it!
If you would like to find out more info about the process of drawing a pet portrait, click here.