Every Artist was First an Amateur
One of my favorite Emerson quotes! I love it because it really has a way of bringing us all down to earth. Established realist artists, get down off of your high horses. There was a time when we all were starting out and we produced terrible art. There was a time when we had no confidence and there was a time when people didn't believe in us when we shared our dreams and aspirations. Sure, some of us had natural, God-given talent, but even with that we still had a starting place that bares no resemblance to who we are today. I reflect on this fact every single day. It keeps me grounded and it helps me to put myself in the shoes of every artist that comes to me with a lack of self-confidence, worry and confusion. We all started from the same place. Every artist was first an amateur.
To show you how far I've come over the years I've looked deep into my files for my earliest paintings to show you. Mind you, this is a first for me. I've had some of these photos stored away for over 22 years. I never wanted ANYONE to see them, but for your pleasure I'm showing them today to illustrate a point. The point is, in many ways, I was in much worse shape than most of you. Growing up in the age of social media is such an amazing advantage. You have access to incredible information and the ability to communicate and share ideas. When these photos were taken I still had to take them somewhere to get developed and it took me 5 days to get them back. So much has changed but that's good news for you. If I had half of the information you had today my journey would have been much easier.
Don't be ashamed of where your work is today. You've only just begun your journey. Fortunately, you can read advice like this online, watch youtube tutorials, communicate with established realist artists and meet other art professionals with the same questions as you have. You have more access to information than any other time in the history of the world. You can be from Africa, Russia, South America or NYC - you all have access to the same information and it is up to you to use it. I constantly receive emails from amateur artists that feel like they don't stand a chance in life. They may have come from a very poor background, a family that doesn't support them, a culture that may discriminate against them. When you have a passion inside you to create you can't allow anything to stop you from achieving your goals. If you can't do what you want now, do all you can in the meantime. If you can't afford paint - draw. If you don't have something to draw or paint on find something flat like cardboard or the back pages of an old book and get your feelings poured out onto it. Your dreams cannot wait. Set your goals as high as you possibly can because if you only get 90% there, you've still achieved more than someone who never dared to dream. Understand that artists you admire were all in your shoes at one time. We shared the same failures and dealt with the same challenges. Nothing worth achieving was ever easy. Remember that and forge ahead with your dreams. Never ever let go until you're in the position to assist the next generation of amateurs that need your help.
Please share some of your experiences below. I'd love to hear how you started out too!