I keep encountering creative souls who have been deeply discouraged by their art teachers and other well-meaning logical minds. (But I will skip the story about how somebody out there should be teaching art.) And I was one of those creative souls as well. No one ever told me I was talented or that I should one day sell art. And yet, here I am, selling art. And I even tend to be pricey.
What I learned is that if you want to create consistently, be inspired, and grow as an artist, you have to do two types of work.
One is for the mind. This is where you learn the craft. And the other is for the senses. Here you simply feel good. And when you don't balance those two, you tend to lose the flow.
The practice for the mind is learning to master your craft. There are different minds, and some learn from books and teachers while others learn from experience. But the point is that you have to make a conscious effort to advance. This kind of practice includes learning the rules, where to apply them, and why.
The practice for the senses is where you go to feel good. Many forget the importance of this practice. Here, you have the permission to forget about the rules and do what you please. Experiment, try new things, try lame things, make mistakes, create ugly art, create whatever wants to be created, and don't judge.
In every art discipline I worked with, I found both of these practices to be essential. And besides photography, I did acting, drawing, design, dance, filmmaking, and writing. The disciplines where I didn't excel were those where I didn't have enough of one of these two approaches.
Where I didn't have enough practice for the mind, my skills didn't develop. And I remained on the same amateur level.
And where I didn't have enough practice for the senses, I lost interest, and it felt hard.
The key here is to know what you're doing. Where you are using rules to your advantage and where you're breaking them to your advantage. And to always be in balance between learning and fun.
After you put some effort into conscious learning, you will subconsciously apply it in everything you do. Your only focus after that is to find your flow. The purpose of both of these practices is to help you find your flow.
When you approach your work from different angles, you'll find it easier to determine and develop your style. Art is really about the process. No one can teach you what feels good for you. Or what you do best.
Schools often teach you what a certain individual called your art teacher thinks is the correct way to create art. And this might or might not work for you.
There is no correct. You get to choose what is right for you depending on where you want to go.
And if the school didn't encourage you to develop your creative talents, forget about it and try again. There will always be those who don't like what you do, and that's okay. And if your art teacher is one of those people, that's okay too. As an artist, your job is to express in your unique way, not to please people.
I'll repeat that once more:
As an artist, your job is to express in your unique way, not to please people.
Put this on your wall, stick it on your computer, tattoo it on your forehead if it's necessary, but don't forget it. You are here to do your thing, not someone else's. And quite frankly, not everybody is competent to tell you what to do. (Sorry, art teachers, but this is the truth.)
Grow your wings back and forget the misery you learned in school. No one's opinion should ever bring you down. It's your opinion that matters.