Study the past and the present
was a scholar, art historian and critic who lived during the 5th century in China. In a preface to one of his critical works he included the "Six Cannons
," or the "Six Principles of Art
." These were the six rules for modes of artistic expression that had been passed down from master to student since ancient times.
The first five principles deal with artistic frame of mind, tradition, and craft. The Sixth Principle is rather cryptically translated as "Transmission by copying," or "Transmission of the experience of the past in continuing a theme."
The sixth principle is actually dual in nature.
The first nature inspires you to copy elements of the art that came before you, the art that has been accepted by society and artists as "good". This includes learning the methods, techniques, styles, and successful themes from the Famous Artists in the pages of art history books and internet archives.
Carefully studying, understanding, and copying good art of any era is a good thing as an element of expanding your knowledge and craft as an artist. Remember, direct copies are not your art, they reflect your craft not your creativity. You can borrow the spirit and finesse of other artists while pursuing your art, but not their images.
The second nature of the sixth principle involes directly copying nature, seeing and replicating what you see through your materials.
Formally trained artists and art students are required to draw and paint from life. The scenarios differ; drawing plaster casts, life drawing with models nude and clothed, portraiture, landscape painting, still life, florals; all are direct interaction with the scene in front of you with you as the visual reporter. All your journaling, sketching, and doodling sucessfully fulfill this side of artistic study.
This collection provides brief introductions to over 40 historical and contemporary artists we consider to be of the highest caliber.
Explore the links above (and beyond) and let them take you to the places and images that inspire and interest you personally. The more you see, and the more you make art, the more you'll be able to find yourself as an artist.
Greg Conley, 2009
PSSST!: The Famous Artists listed here include artists of a wide range of watercolor painting styles. Since watercolor is the focus of this section and this website, please do not forget all the other mediums of expression in the visual arts. There are visual and emotional inspirations in every branch of the arts. Don't short change yourself with a narrow focus. Experience is the fodder for your creativity so feed it from a full menu. Pig out.