Where we begin…

My class starts this week. I’ve put together all my materials and created a plan. All the preparations have me thinking about my own art education. Sometimes we don’t receive great direction from every art teacher we have in our lives. I am personally especially cautious of art teachers that don’t show their own work and ability to draw and or paint. In addition, often in grade schools and colleges, most teachers aren’t motivated by accuracy or art training due to the adulteration and almost demise of the study of classical art in the early 1900’s (The Twilight of Painting by R.H. Ives Gammell). The trend for a long time has been to push just being creative or that both the foundations and being creative are equally important from inception. In every other tradition, however, you must know your craft first before you can creatively perform. Imagine a violinist with no training playing in a concert. Where there is no foundation there is nothing to stand on and certainly nothing to support creativity. While some will quickly mention successful modern artists at this point, I would say yes there are some happy accidents, most are the product of modern art critics attention and promotion. However, statistically speaking a well trained artist has the odds in their favor to do well.

So, my suggestion is to question everyone and don’t assume that any one really has all the answers that you will need to reach your goal of being the best artist you can be. Constantly seek knowledge on your own, practice every day and work towards growing as an artist. I wish I had this wisdom earlier on in my artistic life.

For me and this class…this is where we begin.

An Artist’s Strong Foundation

Like every good building, drawing needs a solid foundation. The foundation begins with what I call the TARP principles. Before even beginning down the path of Classical Atelier style training in painting and drawing, a student must begin with Tenacity, Attitude, Repetition and Patience. Without this, it will be difficult for an artist to improve.

Tenacity will ensure you that you won’t give up no matter how many times you receive negative feedback or reviews of your work. It won’t hinder you from moving forward towards your goals. Attitude is what feeds your tenacity. A student needs to have an attitude of intention of meeting the goal of achieving whatever level you set your mind to. Repetition is the act of continuously drawing and painting on a daily basis. It will be needed to practice as you learn and grow, which never ends for an artist regardless how successful they become. The act of repetition will embed your drawing skills into your minds muscle memory so that you eventually won’t even have to look at a form to draw it. Finally Patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day and most likely an artist won’t pick up a pencil and be a master at first stroke. In order to gain the skills needed to draw like the old masters patience is key.

With these principles in hand, begin… Keep a sketchpad with you everywhere you go. Draw every day from life especially. Even if it’s your coffee cup at work, a leaf you found outside. With these principles in your back pocket, your foundation is set in stone.