I have almost forgotten when I last had face to face contact with students but gee I miss them. Both of my painting teachers seemed to enjoy teaching, Alan Martin more than Shirley Bourne I think but she showed real interest in what we were doing and always encouraged us to strive for better results. For many of us teaching is a means to an end, that of financial stability, but I don’t subscribe to Shaw’s notion that “Those who can do and those who can’t teach.” If in the past those who could refused to teach, then the quality of painting would not have continued at such a high level to this day.
Those who know me will be aware that I don’t put much store in the idea of the born genius when it comes to painting. Max Meldrum has commented on the lack of prodigy painters and I tend to agree. In earlier times painting was considered a craft and artists took youngsters into their studios at an early age as apprentices and so by their early twenties they had undergone at least 10 years of intensive training, some to the point of establishing their own studios. We marvel at these painters today and rightly so. They may have had some intellectual qualities that many don’t but I believe that that their achievements came about due to good training, hard work and interest in their craft.
Going on a bit I’m afraid, but we don’t train painters like that any more. Painting is no longer considered a craft and has been lumped into that great amorphous conglomeration called art. These days anybody who wields a brush, or anything else with a flourish is labelled an artist. This is not a term that I enjoy being applied to me.
I am a painter. I teach people to paint and I am missing doing it! BRING ON THE END OF COVID.
Don James August 2021