Art, Passion, and Breaking the Rules

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. – Pablo Picasso

Vincent Van Gogh is widely known today as a typically eccentric artist. He might not have invented Impressionism, but he was the first to paint stars swirling uncontrollably in the night sky, or to depict sunflowers as golden explosions, or the sky on fire above a wheatfield. His pictures were vivid, wild, daring, chaotic, full of bright yellows and deep blues.

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and be surrounded by a room full of his work – SunflowersIrisesAlmond BlossomThe Bedroom and Potato Eaters – you’ll know the powerful visceral effect it can have.
And yet, if you go to the 2nd floor to the “Van Gogh Close Up” exhibit you’ll find scores of meticulous drawings of hands and feet made by Vincent when he was beginning to learn art. And then it dawns on you – Vincent didn’t simply pick up a brush and start painting A Starry Night. He took boring art classes. He submitted himself to the slow discipline of learning his craft.

I remember my father moaning about modern art and saying anyone could paint like Picasso (“It’s just cubes”) or Pollock (“You just splash paint on a canvas”). But you try. Your colorful splashes on canvas won’t be anywhere bear as sublime as Jackson Pollock’s.

It’s because the grand masters all submitted themselves to their craft. They learned the rules before they dared break them. Artist, Alexander McQueen once said, “You’ve got to break the rules, but keep the tradition.”



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