What is the Process of Learning ? – From The Painter’s Heart

Do you remember when you started to draw? I think
it is a little bit difficult to remember when we
started to draw.
Some day we began to scribble some pictures on paper. Usually those pictures might not be clear. But that day, really it would not matter to us. Just we love them.

That love would give us pleasure. Suddenly one day we would draw the picture with more clarity. Then everybody says we have inborn talent to be an artist.

Then it starts. We began to feel that we may have great skills. To bring out that potential, we need some support and encouragement. We begun to search for a teacher, who would be able to teach us.

Then the real story starts.

Near to Home              Artist:Magunta Dayakar

Usually the teacher we find is not going to be the right person in ninety to ninety percent of cases. He does not know any thing about the science of art. With years of practice he might be able to draw, but he does not know the reasons if something goes wrong. Most of the art teachers and artists are like this. They will teach the students what they know. Then the student also understands art like the teacher.

Then the student starts to paint. After sometime the student begins to feel that something is going wrong with his work, which he doesn’t know. Because the best works which influenced him to enter into the world of art, the beauty of those paintings which mesmerized him, those things he is not feeling in his work.

Then frustration starts. Frustration and ignorance are the twins. You could not separate them. Then the student slowly forgets about learning art.

If not, if he still has a lot of urge in him to become an artist, he will try to explore other options, like joining in fine arts colleges. Then another chapter will start. It will be a chapter of confusion.

Because there also, he would not learn what he needs. He has to be taught basic principles of art. In fine arts colleges, are they explaining these? When I talk with the ones, who graduated from those colleges, I understood their confusion about those basic principles.

Even though I have not entered in these kind of institutions, I had faced all these situations. I was in terrific frustration, by that time I had discontinued my college education. I entered into the world of art with mountains of inspiration, ready to die to become an artist.

Yes! Artists will die of starvation. Artists will die of ill health. Artists die with depressions and frustrations. They could not feed their families. They could not support their children’s education.

Why? Does Society not need art? Is it not necessary for it? Is it the reason for artist’s suffering?….When they are suffering that much then why are they remaining with art till their last day?

We have to try to find the answers for these questions.

The first thing is society needs art. But artists need to know what kind of art society needs. Are artists capable of it? Are they really equipped for it? I don’t think so.

If you want to survive decently on any work you must be good at it, like in any profession. To become good, a person has to learn basic principles of that field.

Basic principles! A wonder! How many artists know about them? Then how do you expect they will earn their bread and butter? I have to say one thing here, many artists was not learning the basic principles of art.

I don’t think it is their fault. It is the system which is responsible. It has to be blamed for this. It is the duty of the art institutions to prevent this sad state. But themselves they are ignorant, what can they do? First they have to be educated. Then only the new entrants will become knowledgeable.

Then artists don’t need to starve. They can feed their families. Like any other professional they can support their children’s education.

Some one may ask “ See the news in the papers about how artists are selling paintings for millions of dollars! “

Yes! It is true.

There are artists who are selling paintings for huge sums. But how many are they?

Another question is, if they are not surviving … then why are they not leaving art? Why are they sticking to it till their end? I don’t think they are able to do other things than art. That much they get absorbed in art, by the time they know the reality, It is too late for them to go back. This happens to any art student who does not have financial support.

The same thing would have happened to me also, if I had not met my teacher. He was Mr. Bhargava. An art teacher in a district high school. Basically I am a self taught artist. But if I have to say there was a teacher for me, then it was him. A really good one. He was one of those artists, who knew the basic principles of art. Who understood the science of art.

But by the time he understood them, it was too late for him to use his knowledge for financial benefits. Not only for him, it happened to many artists in the past, it is still happening in the present, and it will continue to happen in the future also. That’s why we have to strengthen the institutions of art to show the right path to the art students. Then suffering will be minimal.

My teacher showed me the right path. He introduced me to the teachings of the Great master Andrew Loomis.

Andrew Loomis teachings showed me the way. That was the time, I understood the basic principles of art. Unity, Simplicity, Design, Proportions, Color, Rhythm, Form….many of the things I understood from his teachings. I am fortunate because this knowledge came to me when I was in the beginning of my learning. I owe a lot to Andrew Loomis and my teacher Bhargava for this.

Once I learned those basic principles, my work changed unimaginably. Paintings began to come beautifully. Simply it was a wonder! A few basic principles…how they changed my work! And the paintings also looked very simple. Yet beautiful! Yes! This is the key word. Beauty! Beauty will be created by those basic principles.

Beauty lies in every good art form. If the artists are not able to create the beauty in their work then what is the point of becoming artists? Every artist has to understand the beauty. To understand it, they have to learn the basic principles of art.

Once I understood the basic principles, another chapter opened in my learning process. That chapter was about knowing the true meaning of those principles. Here the real struggle starts for a true learner.

This struggle is related to the character. Your personal character. This character will play the key role to make you a true learner.

Why I am talking about character?

What is character?

Sometimes we appreciate greatness of some people. We admire them. We try to follow them. We will make them as our heroes.

Why we admire them like that?

Because they had some qualities, traits, which made them as heroes, legends and all time greats.

Character means having these qualities, traits. A person has character means he is selfless, ready to sacrifice to achieve his dreams, ready to lose anything to reach his destination.

That is character.

After learning basic principles of art or any other subject, one should go with applications. That means execution. Knowing is different from doing. When you start doing things they won’t happen as you planned. They go haywire.

Then depression starts. You may be reluctant to continue. Here most of the learners would stop their attempts to experiment and stop their struggle. That means they are not having the character required to be a true artist.

A person who has character never turns back, whatever happens. He is like a warrior. A true warrior never thinks about death, he thinks only about how to conquer the enemy.

To me every artist is a warrior.

Warriors and artists are alike. Otherwise how do they become famous? How will they be admired? But to be a warrior how are they trained? They learn strategies of war, they practice and understand fighting skills.

To become an artist we need to understand the character of a warrior. We should try to become like that. In history only Warriors and Artists will be remembered more than anyone . Perhaps the reason is, they are the creators and they are also the destroyers. By conquering other kingdoms warriors will create new states. To achieve this they will destroy the existing states. Where as artists will lose themselves in the process of creation. That is the greatness of the artist.

To create a new world on two dimensional canvas they are ready to destroy so many canvases. In this process so much suffering, pain and agony they have to experience. Great things never come to you cheaply. The entire world, irrespective of races, countries talk about Leonardo da Vinci’s Monalisa. Why?

Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Lenin, Abraham Lincoln and Gandhi, Einstein and many greats…. Monalisa is always more in the news than them. Why? Think about it! You may find the answer.

The answer is … It is the character of all time great Leonardo da Vinci. History says ‘ The world had not seen such a extraordinary genius till this day.’

People love that kind of character, they admire those who have that character. Not only warriors, or artists, If anybody wants to become the best they must have character.

Character demands continuous learning, courage to sacrifice, and risk taking. We can ask ourselves sincerely …’ how many artists are having this character?

Continuous learning will help you to get this character. We should continue our learning till our last breath. That is the process of learning.

(This article is excerpt from my book – ‘If You Love Your Work … It will Lead to Failure’)

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