Self-taught Artist?

5 01 2011

Is it important to decide whether or not I am self-taught?  Must be.  The question’s been on my mind for a long time.  What would make me decide today to find the answer?  John Farnsworth.

I was encouraged by an e-mail from my brother-in-law to visit the artist Farnsworth’s website, which I did.  Here’s how Mr. Farnsworth describes himself.

Artist, Photographer, Graphic Artist, Designer, Gallery Owner, Teacher, Webmaster, and now, Daily Painting Auction Blogger. I’m an autodidact, and a lover of life, learning, travel, good food, exotic food, and dry-fly-fishing.

I read his brief bio with interest and then dismay. You’d think a man with such an impressive list of accomplishments would not need to show off JUST FOR THE SAKE OF SHOWING OFF.  Autodidact!  Why couldn’t Mr. Farnsworth simply say he is self-taught?  Why, for that matter, did he even have to mention his education?  Why do we seem to get stuck (up) on our formal training or lack thereof?  And we’re back to my original question.

Am I a self-taught artist?

Of course not. Nobody’s self-taught.  To be self-taught would require existing in a vacuum. We learn from what we experience and that almost always involves other people or their work.  We all understand that is not what artists mean (I hope) when we refer to someone as self-taught, but it seems to be a silly concept, now that I have thought about it. Nobody’s self-taught.

Am I a self-taught artist?

Of course. Matter of fact, “self-taught artist” is redundant. I must continually discover how to use the tools and theories I have learned in ways that are meaningful to me.  Not being self-taught means not being an artist. 

Being an artist has also taught me about myself. It has taught me to be self-aware, not selfish; self-confident, not self-absorbed; and filled with healthier self-esteem –         and just a little bullshit.



2 responses

5 01 2011
Cheryl Strait

lovin this post!:)

6 01 2011

What I find interesting is the seemingly interchangeability of “self-taught” and “influence”. Watch any competition show on History, Food, Travel, etc. and you’ll see that when the critic likes something, they speak of the aparent favorable influence. When they dislike something, they use “self-taught” as another word for “primative” or “unsophisticated”. Shame really…as I think most critics are “self-taught”!?!

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