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There are no rules in art

There are no rules in art.

There are no rules in art. 

Did you want a list of rules?

Did you think that if you had a list of rules to follow your art will be good.

And what is good? Is your art good because someone said, “I like that?” Is your art good because you sold it? Or is your art good because you copied exactly what the teacher said and she gave you an A? Is my art not good because the teacher gave me a C?

Your art will be good because you made it, not because you followed a set of guidelines.

The only rules in art are the rules you make yourself. [ Please click here if you want to tweet. Tweet, tweet.]

We have been brought up to expect rules and to obey them.

When you want to fly there are rules. If you jump off a building, there are rules. For example. The law of gravity. If you jump off of a building you will go down and not up. You can’t be Superman with a red cape. Don’t jump off the barn.

When you draw or paint a picture, there are no rules.

You don’t have to keep a sharp pencil, you can press hard or softly, you can draw fast or slow.

If you mix blue paint with red paint you will always get purple. Blue and yellow makes green. Red and yellow make orange. That is science, not a rule.

Yes, your teacher told you in grade school to color in the lines. She may have shown you how to draw an owl.

My teacher in grade school taught us how to draw an owl. She showed us the owl she drew and we were suppose to draw our owl exactly the same.

The rule was to make our owl look exactly like her owl.

She drew an oval shape. Like an egg standing on its end. We were instructed to draw the same shape. Then she drew the other shapes. The rule was to make our owl look exactly like her owl.

First this, then this.

The teacher was wrong. There is more than one way to draw an owl.

Make your own rules.

I read a list of three art rules and then I broke  every one of them.

  1. They said not to press too hard.  I pressed as hard as I could and indented the paper.
  2. They said to always keep my pencil point sharp.  I rubbed my pencil lead down so it was dull.
  3. Their third rule was to draw quickly. I moved my hand slowly.

Go ahead. Find a rule and break it. Make a rule and keep it.

Be you. You can’t be anyone else. 

What do you think?

Are there rules in art?

Please tell me in the comments. I would love to chat.


About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • Mr. C.

    Actually, there are rules for art, just as there are rules for music (see J.S.Bach’s counterpoint). I am currently writing a book on the rules in design due to the lack of existing material on the subject. Everyone wants to scribble willy-nilly and call it art, but that only leads to something your own brain can appreciate. For universally appreciated design, there are most certainly rules for how to go about the creative process.

    • Hi Mr. C.
      I would love to read your book.
      Do you mean there are rules, like perspective, or one light source? Or rules as in, a painting must look realistic? There are laws of gravity too, but you could paint a tree upside down and call it art, even though that is not reality.
      What do you think?

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  • Shari

    When I was in jr. high I made a B in art. It kept me off the A honor roll. I never took another art class in jr. high or high school again, even though I really enjoyed art. The B told me that I mustn’t be that good in art. In college my teaching degree required me to take a couple art classes which I highly enjoyed. However, by that time I really didn’t take myself seriously as an artist. I remember turning down getting a degree in interior design when I found out that it required the ability to draw.

    • Shari,
      The B your teacher gave you doesn’t mean you don’t have the ability to draw. The teacher assumed a standard like my teacher did. I got a C in my drawing class and chose a different major. Photography instead of Graphic Design. Ever since I could talk I wanted to illustrate children’s books. Recently I went back to school to learn Computer Graphics so I can illustrate my own books.
      It is never too late to dream again, or learn a new skill.
      You are an artist. And you are good at art.

  • nlazaris

    Wonderful post to remind us that rules stifle creativity, uniqueness and our journey towards authenticity. Weird shaped owls are the best!

    • Thank you for your kind words Nick. I may have to draw an owl today.

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