Is it possible to learn to paint self-taught?

Is it possible to learn to paint self-taught?
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Is it possible, starting from practically no artistic training, to learn to paint on your own, without the help of a teacher, a course, an art school? We would all be inclined, at first, to say yes: in the end, it is a matter of taking a brush, dip it in color and bring it to the canvas. After all, how many times have we seen a painting in front of which we said – or heard – well, I could do this too?

From this point of view, learning to paint as a self-taught person is by no means impossible. On the other hand, problems arise when one passes from theory to practice and collides with the canvas. There we understand that learning to paint on your own will not be easy and that, indeed, it will be a path full of obstacles.

Finding a painting course or learning on your own?

After all, learning to paint is never easy, not even for those who have good teachers at their disposal and therefore capable of painting and cool drawings. Well and teaching others to paint. Entering the world of art and painting alone is even more difficult, but no, it is not impossible. Our advice is never to exclude, a priori, the possibility of attending an art course or using a teacher before or after. But it’s not mandatory, and it’s not right away. You can certainly set out on this path on your own.

Who has the right profile to be self-taught?

Who can think of learning to paint on a self-taught basis? It can be done by that person who, while loving art, has decided not to consecrate his existence to it, thus avoiding enrolling in the artistic high school to follow other paths. Or those who would like to take an art course but live in a village that does not offer such opportunities, or who would like to participate in lessons but have working hours that make it impossible. The artist who first tried to get help from a teacher but had a bad experience could also opt for the self-taught path. 

There is no shortage of teachers full of pictorial talent but utterly devoid of any didactic ability, who can hardly really teach anything to anyone. Here is the decision to undertake a self-taught path, an itinerary that, if correctly approached, allows you to achieve satisfactory results; many will tell you that you can only work so intensely without a teacher, which is true. But it is still a very distant point, especially for those who decide to commit themselves fully to painting even without enrolling in a course.

Not all famous painters went to school

If you are entering the path of self-taught painting, it can certainly help you discover that many greats of the history of art have not followed the canonical training path of the artist. Indeed, in many cases, they have done quite the opposite. Famous, to stay in Italy, in the case of Antonio Ligabue, a painter who had an education that was anything but complete – he did not finish his studies – and only around the age of thirty learned the use of oil colors, without however following any actual courses, to then devote himself entirely to painting and sculpture, with the results we all know. Of course, this is an exceptional and extreme example.

Other significant international artists can also include in the register of self-taught painters, such as Vincent Van Gogh and, among others, Henri Rousseau, people who, often after a life spent doing something else, have begun to observe gradually with more attention to the paintings of others, to then create their own and unmistakable style.

Are the avant-garde born outside the academies?

After all, it is very often from irregular training courses that natural talents are born. It is certainly no coincidence that all the historical avant-gardes, the most aggressive and disruptive ones, have always started by canceling the academy’s rules, overturning as much as possible everything they have learned about art. Picasso himself repeatedly said, with different words from time to time, that all children are born artists and that the real problem, once they become adults, is to try to understand how to become such again.

From some points of view, in short, academic studies could risk harnessing students’ creative and artistic abilities, thus assigning significant advantages to those who choose to learn to paint on their own. But be careful. You absolutely cannot think of becoming good painters without studying, albeit alone: ​​it is necessary to observe the works of others, study the history of art, commit to mastering the visual language, and never silence one’s curiosity.

Learning to paint self-taught: our tips

So how do you learn how to paint on your own? Of course, there is no secret formula, but adopting a series of behaviors can provide you with the right stimuli to learn or seek the correct information. We have some helpful advice for you.

Select good videos

There are tons of online platforms for watching videos nowadays. Just think that about 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Over 2 billion different videos are uploaded in a year, so much so that to see all the videos uploaded last year would take 18,000 years, without pauses. It is to say, in short, that there are many videos on the internet dedicated to the most varied topics. Many – very many – are dedicated to art, and in some cases, you can find tutorials to learn how to paint well.

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