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Posted 1 October 2002, 8.54 pm by Alexander

All the skills I use on a regular basis and those that I've got the most use out of are self-taught. Not necessarily basic life skills like reading, writing and arithmetic but certainly all that I do that I consider 'artistic' or expressive. I've taught myself how to play multiple instruments, to build websites and sing, write songs, mostly how to draw and paint. How important is it to be self-taught? Given the option, would you choose tutelage and guidance from one who is experienced over working it out yourself?

In my case, the skills I list above and anything that comes from them comes directly from me, rather than through a filter of other people's preferences and decisions as to effectiveness. On the other hand, often they lack discipline, are less effective and harder to communicate than classically taught examples of the same activities. I can't read music, so I can't use that method to learn or teach other people how my songs should sound. I can't really read guitar tab terribly well either. The fact that I've written literally hundreds of songs that have been enjoyed by thousands of people in my mind underlines the non-essential nature of such accepted methods.

Ironically, I would like to pass on my skills and share my knowledge with others. How valid is my guidance when a lot of the time I just 'know' things are right? It's hard to teach someone how to play the guitar without falling into the same trap I tried successfully to avoid - you're not teaching someone how to play an instrument, you're teaching them how YOU play an instrument. It's convoluted in the extreme, and those exponents who have qualifications in particular art forms (which is a fairly ludicrous concept when you really analyse it) are wont to decry autodidacts like myself as fauvists, naive or (hopefully) idiot savant.

Of course, all the above applies mainly to what falls under 'the arts'. I don't think many people sit down and learn quantum mechanics without even a book to steer them. Then you can add natural talent into the equation - do some people learn things faster due to an inbuilt propensity for it, or do these people just naturally learn fast and take an interest in a particular metier?

It's an interesting train of thought, and brings up a lot of questions. Think of the skills you possess and the things you're good at. How much of that skill do you attribute to schooling, training and external influence, and how much to your natural abilities? Have you ever found yourself to be really good at something you don't enjoy?

on 2 October 2002, 3.29 am
Any of the skills I actually value, I've taught to myself. I taught myself how to read, paint, draw, play drums, snowboard and a couple other things that don't come to mind. The main skill that I use thats been taught to me at school is math. Some of that stuff you just can't teach yourself.

on 2 October 2002, 11.07 am
Well I probably learnt between nothing and little at school. I suspect your real meaningful learning comes when you decide within yourself what you want to be and as importantly how you want to get there.

I am not sure I taught myself anything, but learnt from the knowledge, teachings and support of others, I have surely adapted their methods, improved on them and made them work even more successfully.

We should not under estimate how much we do 'pick' up from others, in many cases subconscientiously. Looking up to other people or artists and trying to emulate, is in certain ways being their pupil.

I do agree we can have inbuilt talent or skill, but in my experience developing and fine tuning those qualities needs the help of others, like a mentor.

It's a very interesting subject/point

on 4 August 2004, 7.19 am

on 4 August 2004, 7.21 am

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In 2018 I started painting again. This was one of a series of acrylic sketches I did to relearn techniques and revisit my skills from art college.

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