It's Good to Share...


Last week, I worked on some free presentations for art teachers to use (you can download Part 1 here - These resources show the process that I went through in creating 'The Insidious Whisper'. This is of course not entirely altruistic; the thought that I may possibly inspire someone in their art career, even in the smallest way, is certainly an intoxicating thought.

Regular readers will also have seen my posts and videos on how I work. Many people have thanked me on social media for these insights. And they are very welcome.

I like to share.

As children we are taught to share from an early age. It is one of the ways parents socialise children and it is seen as something very important. Should this be any different as we grow into adulthood?

At the start of my teaching career many great teachers passed on their skills, ideas and knowledge to me. They allowed me to grow as a teacher and greatly improved the experiences of the children in my class. Many years later, I shared my skills, ideas and knowledge with less experienced teachers too. Whether this was allowing them to come and watch me teach or helping them in planning or assessing. It was one of the best aspects of the job, being able to pass on things that would enable children to learn more effectively.

Two of the schools I worked in were part of an Education Action Zone, a cluster of schools in the same area with similar problems, and as such the teaching staff would get together on a regular basis to share best practice. This helped the children in an even wider area. This was at a time when schools were in direct competition too, as they are now, and results were all important. But still sharing was a part of our culture.

Here's my point: even if I spent a long time planning a lesson with another teacher and gave then lots of tips and ideas, they would still deliver that lesson very differently to me. They would take it and make it their own. Their personality would come through in a different way and they would put more emphasis on certain things. There are so many other facets to the teaching process that it would be nigh on impossible to support a teacher in every choice that they were going to have to make in a lesson.


And it's the same with art. I can tell you my processes and techniques in great detail, but your end product will be very different to mine. It can't be any other way: you will draw from a vast range of experiences that are incredibly different to mine. Even if we just look at handwriting, it's very different in each person. So if we add brush choice, brush strokes, colour mixing and all of the other choices an artist makes every second into the mix, it soon becomes impossible to do anything but create something different. (Well, I suppose you could completely copy one of my paintings, but then we're getting into plagiarism and that's a different matter entirely.)

As artists, we don't need to hang onto our secrets like Colonel Sanders.

We can share so that the next generation of artists can grow, take our ideas and morph them into something entirely different and push art into new and interesting areas that we can't imagine. Surely that's how societies grow. If the first person to invent the wheel had kept his or her brand new wheelbarrow a secret by wrapping sacking around the bottom so that no-one could see this ground-breaking invention, where would we be now? (Carrying our topsoil in yoke-like contraptions maybe?) Okay, maybe someone else more kindly would have come up with the wheel and shared it a few years later, but progress would have been slower.

So I will continue to share and I hope you will too. If someone gleans the smallest little idea from my posts and it improves his or her art then I'm a happy little fellow.

What are your views on sharing? Should artists divulge their processes or should they keep all of their secrets locked away in a four foot thick lead box? I'd like to read your comments.

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