At the University I attended, the professor told the class that everyone shall paint a girl from life. She was a beautiful young student that was our model for the evening.
Everyone in the class stood in front of their canvases, very seriously, while the model entered the room. She was naked, lying on a sofa with her back to us.
I asked the professor “How should I begin painting?” and he replied “doesn’t matter how, just paint.” So I did, but after a while, too much oil and turpentine, the whole painting was dripping and looked very bad.
The professor left the room and I went to the painting books. I took one and found a photo of the painting ‘Venus at her mirror’ by Velasquez. I understood something about the way I should paint her. How the light glowing skin should be painted with thick layers of white and ochre, and the shadows with thin layers of red and black. I took this as an example and combined it with what I was looking at: the beautiful girl that was modeling for me. I was able to achieve a very good effect.
The professor came back and asked me what I was doing. Without waiting for an answer he took the book and closed it in front of me. He said “a real artist never copies!”
Then is when I understood I was not and never will be an artist.