How do you teach someone to paint?
Is it best to give them a blank canvas? To say, “here’s where you buy paint and brushes” and let them go to it?
Or is it best to give them a few brushes, ten standard colors and a picture with numbers on it?
The first case sounds appealing. It’s the ultimate opportunity for creativity. “Buy any brush you want! Mix the paints at any ratio! Then just start putting it out there!”
But–you’re not sure if you’re a good painter, or if you’ll even like painting. So you buy a few brushes to get started. Maybe you’re cautious, and get the cheap ones. Or maybe you really WANT to love painting, so you “go big” on the expensive ones. It doesn’t really matter.
Your first “painting” really looks like a scribble. And that’s just great. Hahaha.
The second painting isn’t much better. But you tried a bit harder.
By the tenth attempt, you’re not getting any better, and you’re tired of it, so you decide to pack it in. Unfortunately, you’ve already promised someone a painting. And taken their money. So you bear down harder. You ask for free advice on Facebook. You watch YouTube videos and get really pumped up about painting again.
Maybe you even get pretty good at painting part of the picture. “I’m really good at suns. I’ll just put a sun in every picture.” But people aren’t paying for suns. And pretty soon, they’re boring to paint.
What if you started with a guide?
Hear me out. On your first day, you get a set of brushes and paints. No, they’re not the same ones used by a master painter…but you’ll end the day with a picture that looks like something. Good. Put it on your wall. No one will see the numbers through then paint.
On the second day, we’ll do a bigger picture. You’ll have more color choices. You’ll still have lines to paint within, but they won’t show. You can still deliver your painting and say, “I made this for you.” The client won’t care.
On the third day, we might add a wedge brush, because you’re working on bigger pictures, and this is a tool that can really help along the edges.
Within six weeks, you’re painting on your own, and people are proud to hang your work.
Do some people eventually figure it out on their own, without a guide? Not really. Even the top artists have mentors. The top artists copy the work of other artists first. They take decades to try and fail and THEN they sell a single picture. They get 10,000 hours of practice before they commit to a gallery.
You can try to figure out your gym on your own. You can take the blank canvas and start throwing WODs on it. You can give your paintings away all you like. But when you start charging for them, you have to get really good, really fast. Or you’ll just be another starving artist.