I am often asked if I am a self-taught artist. Though I like the idea of being so knowledgeable and talented I could teach myself, I think it is better to give credit where due.
I have been creating art since I was a child. My wonderfully resourceful and magical mom would go the local newspaper and bring me home huge end rolls of paper and jars of broken pencils and crayons. She let me paint all over the basement walls and responded as though Picasso himself had visited. She was my first teacher, though she did not draw. Likewise, my father would always bring me tokens; plastic lids, styrophone trays, a bit of balsa wood. He would say "You can probably make something out of this."
They lit my imagination, watered my wonder and opened my mind to endless worlds of fantasy and possibility. My forts were admired, my dress designs sewn, carvings from branches, giant mud people who rose from the corn field and all manner of creations were duly applauded.
They called me an artist, and I believed them.
I took all sorts of art in school and long after I was an established professional artist, I got an art degree. Partly because I always wanted to and partly for validation. I don't regret I didn't learn how to paint any better because it was there I fell in love with Rembrandt, DaVinci, Carravaggio and so many others.
So who gets the credit for teaching me? Everyone and everything I experience.
I am not self taught, but I am self learned. Every push of the pencil or mix of colour I learned from someone or something. I chose what I wanted to learn. Even the make believe monsters and fairies were formed of ideas I learned in the world.
I devour art books. I experiment with ancient and modern techniques. I have no style to speak of yet, but my artillery of learned influences is massive and I don't mind flitting from one thing to another.
We choose our courses in school and in life. None of us have the same curriculum and we all learn even if we fail.
To claim to be self taught is arrogant and proposterous. I would rather remain an eager and open-minded student of creativity with no graduation in sight.