Ask ten artists, trained or untrained, for input on a particular medium or technique, and you’ll get ten different suggestions about the right way. The ways may differ slightly or drastically. The artists may be hardcore insistent, defensively indignant, or “whatevs” ambivalent about their way. Get those ten artists together, and they’ll discuss and debate for an hour (which is great).
At the EC, this happened most recently while five of my staff asked me for input as they discussed the right way to apply an acrylic wash. My response was derived from a video I found after a similar conversation about the right way a few years ago.
I was surprised to discover that we each had a different way. Discussion among the six of us revealed that some use water to thin the acrylic. Others use a medium. Some apply the wash very thin. Others apply it rather opaquely. Some use a tone which matches the overall color temperature of the palette being used. Others use a contrasting tone. One prefers a gray. Some cannot abide brush strokes, and others tolerate or even like them. … and… Some don’t use a wash at all.
The truth is that there is no right way. None of these artists is so oblivious that they set themselves up for failure every time they paint. Each of these artists is using a way that works for them. Yes, yes, yes. It is possible that there may be more efficient, productive ways—ways they may not care for or know about. But right now, their way is the right way for them.
The Internet Knows
As the director, I will eventually be expected to make a decision about the right way for the program. How will the artists on staff mentor the EC artists? Which way will be the right way?
Too lazy to consult the shelves of art books behind me, I turned to the internet. (Send me answers, internet. I need to know the right way to apply an acrylic wash.) But the internet knows that everyone has a different way, and there is no one right way. (Hence, a million results instead of, like, five.) Fortunately, among the million, the internet sent me a video which, in addition to the video above, sort of sums up a few different ways, lending options to the EC artists (and staff) and a sense of legitimacy to my decision.
As usual, the EC’s approach is that art is not about right ways and wrong ways. There is always a way. Be creative. Find the way that works for you, and get to work.
Thank you, internet.