YOU'LL ONLY BE A PAINTER IF YOU PAINT
One of the biggest hang-ups about painting is having to think too much about it, while we do it. Of course, we have to think about what we are doing, but it can easily overtake our artistic side and in the end, artistry can drown in theory. All said and done, no one is going to be a painter because they know all the theory. Skill grows from the continual process of painting itself. No one has ever learned to drive without actually driving.
For example, colour theory isn't just learned from reference to colour charts and wheels, but by the use of colour on the palette and canvas. It is a personal journey that is different for everyone. Very early on I discovered by myself that red was toned down by green - actually, I didn't even know what tone was, but I knew that by adding a bit of green to bright red and some white, I could get the terra cotta colour I wanted.
Referring to colour charts and wheels while we are actually painting, can halt the flow of our work and growth can be stunted. The fewer colours you use, the easier it is to comprehend the amazing reach of colour mixing, and you will learn more about the subject than swarming over a 100 charts.
Composition rules can also be a needless worry. Recently, I read an artist's take on DaVinci's Last Supper painting. They drew red diagonal lines all over it, indicating the intricate compositional pattern. It looked impressive but made no sense at all, and is of no practical help to artists. Composition, like every other aspect of painting will develop in time. A sense of balance will become second-nature if we are continually aware of it, even when we are not painting.
Painting Plein air is the greatest teacher because everything has to be done on the fly, such as colour, tone, composition, and perspective. It's the best learning process there is, because it demands that artists to take control by making their own decisions.
Read the books, view the videos, and go to the workshops to learn as much as you can, but remember you'll only ever be a painter if you paint.
Sunspot Reflections - acrylic on canvas - 100x75cm