In many careers you start by studying, learning from others. Those who came before you have created a foundation of knowledge, gathered over the years, so there are many dead-ends you don’t need to visit or experiments you don’t need to repeat – because the answers have been found and are there for you to see and understand. In some careers you are legally obligated to learn and follow this accepted wisdom. A doctor must learn medicine and follow accepted practice, a lawyer must learn the law of the land and (hopefully) operate within it. So how does art differ from this?
Well, from my years of experience I’d say that being an artist appears to demand that you turn down any number of dead-end roads on your route to improvement. Its true that many people study, that they follow the example of the great masters of the past and learn the history of art, but no amount of theory or knowledge of materials can make you a great artist. Its all about practice, trial and error, and time. Practice leads to competence. Trial and error leads to innovation. Time allows you to develop your own style.
Art is about forging your own path (and trying not to trip over your trunk).
Enjoy the journey!