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Art Myth No.2: Painting Should be Easy
Myths About Being an Artist: It Should be Easy

Where does the belief that great art should be easy come from?

Image: ©2006 Marion Boddy-Evans Licensed to About.com, Inc

Fact: Says who? Why should anything that’s worth doing be easy? There are lots of techniques that anyone can learn (such as shading, rules of perspective, color theory) to produce a painting in a relatively short time. But it takes effort to move beyond mediocrity. Great artists can make it look easy, but that 'ease' has, like any great skill, come through years of hard work and practice.

If you set out with the belief that painting should be easy, you're setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment. With experience certain aspects do become easier -- for example, you know what the result is going to be be when you glaze one color on top of another -- but that doesn't mean getting the final painting done is easy.

Dubious? Well, here's what Robert Bateman has to say about it: “One definition of a masterpiece I have heard . . . when you see it, you should feel you are seeing for the first time, and it should look as if it is done without effort. This is a very, very tough yardstick. I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever done a masterpiece, but when I am struggling with each painting - and they are all a struggle - I often feel that I am nowhere near those two goals.”

Bateman says of 'easy pieces': "If I look back on the body of a previous year’s work and see many easy pieces, I feel I have let myself down."

“It’s easier to paint in the angel’s feet to another’s masterwork than to discover where the angels live within yourself.” – David Bayles and Ted Orland in Art and Fear.

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