"We labor only to fill our memory, and leave understanding and conscience empty." -Montaigne, "Of Pedantry"
When we are interested in a certain subject, we are prone to learn more given liberty to engage in it ourselves; Study, unsolicited from instructors and big academic organizations.
This characterizes my nonlinear developement as an artist in oil painting first as a hobby then as a dedicated occupation.
But back in 2004, like any young aspiring artist fresh out of high school I had my sights set for art school. I remember the the day my Dad and I took a trip an hour and a half north to the Arts Institute in Denver with a hope of working out a chance to study and manifest my dream of becoming a painter.
I was greeted only with disappointment as the counselor revealed that AI was gutting it's declining fine arts program and promoted the idea of studying graphic arts. To them, digital art in marketing was becoming a more obvious and lucrative field of art so they decidedly pushed its hopeful students towards this instead.
In the end I chose not to go there, which turned out to be the right decision. It took several years of trying to figure out how to buckle down and get serious about art but it came evetually through self study. From books written by those like Joseph Sheppard and David Hockney, watching tutorials on handling paint, and even just finding my own techniques, I found that there is plenty of information to paint the way I wanted to paint.
These days, you wouldn't have to search too far to identify the resentment and frustration many art school students have over how most of their schools have failed in shaping them into the artists they hoped to become by the time they printed their diplomas.
Having a skilled teacher or a thorough mentor will, of course, always beat pursuing art with undisciplined desire. But there comes a time when an artist will only continue progressing in art by being aided by intution and self-reliance.
Montaigne understood this when he discussed why instruction and pedantry only excused and blunted the students' power to grow through their own will.
Finding development and growth in art is a life long pursuit and as Pliny the Elder said, "habit is the most effective teacher of all things."