FECHIN ON ART
It is better, in many respects, for an artist to be an amateur, rather than a professional. I am using the word ‘amateur’ in the original sense as ‘one who loves.’ The same amateur not only sincerely loves art but devotes to its pursuit most of his spiritual life. By contrast, the dilettante uses art as a mere pastime, or perhaps more often as an affectation, but maintains deprecatingly that he is only an “amateur” artist. No one can teach you how to paint and how to draw except you, yourself. You cannot learn how to paint by watching a well-trained master while he paints until you, yourself, have learned how to paint with some degree of understanding. Only by the path of much practice and experience can mature results be attained. All creation is personal and belongs to you alone. The teacher must not touch this. His main reason for existence is to see that the work of the student is well thought out and constructively organized. As a rule, the professional artist looks upon the amateur as an adult looks upon a child – forgetting that even an adult can learn a great deal about sincerity, spontaneity, and independence or freedom of approach from the child. Often, indeed, amateurs make great discoveries and contributions to knowledge. An amateur is primarily interested in the process of achievement, and all types of art expressions have an equal value to him if he sees in them the challenge of an evermore difficult problem. A professional, having achieved some technical feat or twist for which he has gained recognition, often fears to leave it behind in order to move ahead. Thus he narrows the scope of his endeavor and prevents the development of new and encompassing processes. Instead of moving forward to meet greater challenges and making further efforts toward unfolding his realm of art, he allows his very success to become a dead-end. He stops – a fatal mistake. An acceptance of any creative straitjacket produces stagnation, just as unmoving, unchanging water becomes stagnant and a menace to life. Art, like the whole of our life, submits to the eternal law of change, and any attempts to stop it at one particular level or phase are like vain efforts to stop time itself. Art, therefore, cannot belong solely to any one period or current of development. In the evolution of art, life itself selects in absolute freedom that which furthers its own purpose, sublating the preceding stage. This process of selection remains ever our wise teacher and guide. The experiences which come to us through the ages indicate the path into the unknown future. But regardless of its guiding role, we cannot and must not live by the past. The process of change defines life and from it flow all new ideas. As an artist, or as a human being, for that matter, it is impossible to be alive without the never-ending effort of consciously following this autonomous flow of life.