Occasionally you see books, articles, or workshops dedicated to helping artists “paint from the heart,” loosen up their style, whack themselves on the side of the head, discover the light of Tuscany, or some other damn thing.
It’s crap. Your heart will never have any idea how to paint.
Of course, there are a few artists out there who could benefit from some loosening up. For every one of them, there are a hundred others who need to learn how to actually paint. This entails the acquisition of difficult skills and the mindset to use those skills to achieve specific goals. Some of those skills are:
- How to draw
- How to draw exactly what you see
- How to draw the figure
- How to draw the portrait
- Color theory
- Color mixing
- Brush handling
- Art history
- And lots more
That is the case even if you want to paint loosely. Read Richard Schmid’s book on painting (he paints in a loose alla prima style that is wondrous to behold) and you’ll see how hard it is to learn how to paint that way, too.
Heck, it’s a lot of work learning to paint abstractly, if you want to do it well.
Painting from the heart is for lazy people who just want to schmear paint around, feel artistic, and find people to tell them how wonderful it must be to paint.
Instead, learn to paint with your mind and your soul. That’s a lot harder, but will take you much further toward making paintings that belong on a stranger’s wall.