Artistic Freedom vs. Technique

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Artistic Freedom vs. Technique

From Virgil Elliott

Published before 2005


Richard A. Muller wrote:

Just a historical footnote to Virgil's excellent remarks.

There are several significant nineteenth-century painters who broke with their own past and moved toward a freer expression in an attempt to depict light (J. M. W. Turner) or to express the divine in nature (G. Inness). Both Turner and Inness, however had fully mastered the traditional landscape techniques and as their early paintings amply demonstrate, could evidence massive technical mastery. In short, they gave themselves the proper permission to move toward the freer expression. Or, to mix the metaphor, one cannot engage in freestyle until the compulsory figures have been mastered.

Richard A. Muller

Richard,

Yes, true artistic freedom BEGINS with mastery of technique. One is not free to do what one is incapable of doing.

Imagine an aspiring mathematician scorning to learn to add, subtract, multiply or divide, or a music student thinking there is no benefit to a musician in mastering the fundamentals of at least one instrument, or of learning to play in more than one key. Mental laziness is at the bottom of these attitudes, as if to undertake to develop mental discipline of any kind were tantamount to punishment, and as if great accomplishment in any worthy endeavor were possible without it.

Virgil Elliott

Virgil Elliott is the author of Traditional Oil Painting: Advanced Techniques and Concepts from the Renaissance to the Present, published in 2007 by Watson-Guptill Publications. He is one of ARC's <u>Living Masters</u>, and an active member of the ASTM Subcommittee on Artists' Paints and Materials. Images of some of his artworks can be seen in ARC's Gallery of Living Masters and on his own web site, www.virgilelliott.com.