I have always held the FIRM belief that artistic ideas belong to no one single person. I have always held the firm belief that Art grows from the ideas of others. If it didn't we would still be drawing in the mud. Ever single art that has ever existed comes from a gradual development of a concept or a technique. Art movements are about artists working on a similar theme, but from those themes come individuality. If you look at the Renaissance with blurred vision you it would seem that all the artists were sort of copying each other...and guess what, they were. Of course, I tend to think of it less of copying and more of "learning" from new ideas. If you look closely you start to notice subtleties in each artists work. Bosch and Bruegel are very similar...but look closer and they are not. That is the point, there is no possible way for them to be identical, no two minds will never be able to create exactly the same thing (unless you are a forger which is a different kind of thing altogether). Art movements are about trends that are interesting or pertinent to the time of the creations. If there wasn't a fair amount of "learning" from each other there would be no such thing as an art movement. Otherwise Raphael would be doing Renaissance painting while DaVinci would have been busy inventing Abstract Expressionism...it's not what happens. Artists grow, and expand on the ideas of other Artists.
Now I'm going to pull out a quote from Picasso...well at least it has been attributed to him "Good artists borrow. Great artists steal." The reason this is important is that an artist's role is to move ideas forward. The way they do this is by paying attention to what's going on around them. I promise you that Michelangelo was well aware of what Raphael was doing and vice versa. I view art as a science. Like scientific discoveries, artistic discoveries are built on the bones of its predecessors. It seems ludicrous to me to have to reinvent something that has already been explored. All styles and techniques are worthy to be reexamined and rediscovered. It is what we as artist's do.
So the reason I have sort of a bee in my britches over this issue is that I am amazed at how many of my students seem surprised that I am willing to share my ideas with them. Of course I'm going to share my ideas. Art MUST grow! It must move forward.
I have absolutely no fear that someone is going to "steal" my style and run with it. Let them, but it won't be my art. They may use my techniques but it will never be mine and anything I do will not be their's. It is probable that other artists using certain techniques of mine will grow in directions that I would have never thought of. In some cases perhaps better. So be it! That is a good thing. If nothing else it keeps me motivated to stay on top of my game.
So for those teachers worried about someone stealing your "secrets"...well you have the choice not to teach or share those secrets. Of course, by now, you know how I feel about that point of view.
The reason I am so avid about this position of sharing is that, to me, art is sacred and magical. It is perhaps one of the most sacred and magical things we have on this earth. The idea of keeping artistic ideas, techniques and thoughts hidden from other artists seems like a spit in the face of everything that I hold as divine in the Universe. It is sacrilegious to everything that I believe as an artist. I believe, as an artist I am here to explore this place through my eyes and hands. At some point I will have shuffled off this mortal coil. What greater honor is there than inspiring others and knowing you have contributed to the continuity of the artistic timeline. Before I die that is what I hope I can achieve, but I can't achieve it unless I am willing to share.