Mark Menendez is a portrait artist who has an incredible passion for teaching. I’m so pleased to share with you this Q&A we held recently. Make sure you read all the way through–you’ll get a kick out of a slight misunderstanding he had with a beautiful student, which he shares here.
CH: What’s the most common question you hear from beginning artists, and what is your answer to that question?
MM: “Can I really learn to draw and paint at my age, and what about talent?” Creating art fascinates most individuals, yet many simply have the false belief that one must be born with talent. Unfortunately, many never try, sadly missing one of life’s greatest joyful and fun pursuits. I believe that talent is overrated. Anyone can learn to draw or paint.
CH: You paint a variety of subjects. What’s your favorite, and why?
MM: My favorite subject is portraits, and there are two reasons for this. First, it was the first one I learned to draw, by copying from my comic books, and two, I love and am fascinated by people, and how their individual characters are revealed on their faces.
CH: Do you have any words of encouragement for someone who wants to learn how to paint or draw?
MM: Avoid thinking that it’s an impossible goal. In each of our lives, there are countless daily, trivial things we learn to do, and though they seem difficult at first, we master them. Later, after many repetitions, we do them without even thinking. It isn’t different with drawing or painting. Anything you do often and practice, you will eventually master.
CH: Any funny stories related to your teaching career?
MM: A student in one of my weekly classes once brought in a beautiful self-portrait, created in profile. A gorgeous woman with long, raven curls, her appearance was quite striking. She was very shy and lacked confidence in her abilities as an artist, though in my opinion, she created beautiful, original paintings.
In her timid way, she requested my critique of her self-portrait, asking, “What do you think?” Seeing the fine work she had done, I encouraged her. “You’ve done an outstanding job,” I said. “It truly captures your likeness and personality. I especially like how you included the silver and turquoise earring.” I pointed at the bauble peeping out from the dark ringlets in her mane.
“It’s tacky,” she said, almost apologetically.
“No, no, I think it adds a spectacular secondary point of interest in your portrait.”
She floored me when she replied,”No, I meant the earring is wet. I just painted it, and I thought you were going to smear it with your finger.”
I’m glad that he didn’t agree when she said it was tacky! I hope this brought a smile to your face today. Menendez is known for his warm personality and relaxed teaching style. Scroll down to watch a preview of one of his newest DVDs from ArtistsNetwork.tv (click here to order your DVD of Basic Drawing Techniques today).
With fond regards,
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