Skipping ahead in regard to Mona Brookes’s statements meant to help her readers gauge their confidence, I move along to consider this one: “People who can’t draw realistically, with accurate shading and correct proportion, aren’t real artists.” In the context of her book, Mona Brookes offers this statement as an example of false standards that discourage beginners. The implication is that only realism counts as “art.”
In my youth the flip-side of this was more the rule. I began learning to draw naturalistically from adolescence, but when I went to college I found that among the professors it was axiomatic that “real art” wasn’t realistic. Drawings that depicted things, regardless of the quality of the drawing, were uniformly dismissed as “illustration,” a term that was used unequivocably as a term of derision.
Happily for me, I was well rooted in my own preferences. My rule was to do what I liked. This wasn’t a stylistic rule. It was simply my habit. I was a spoiled only child. What is the point of drawing if you are only drawing according to the dictates of everybody else? Most artists could stand to learn a thing or two from us spoiled only children.
Even if the professors had been right, and it was manifestly clear that they were not, what would have been the point in my doing their ideas of “modern art” if I didn’t like it? Who put them in charge, anyway? Why am I doing something if it has no meaning for me? One professor went so far as to say we had permission to do something-or-other because they are doing it in New York.
Well, let them do what they like in New York. I live in Maryland. Pshaw!