Some of my artist friends regret that they never attended an art college or university. It might surprise some of you to know that I majored in art at a large university and have a bachelor's degree in fine-art education.
|Little Long Pond, Acadia by Lori Woodward, acrylic painting on linen, 10 x 15.|
Being able to share my experiences on blogs allows me to be more frank with my readers, so here it goes. The truth is, I learned very little of what I now know while at college. My professors did not understand or teach the basic academic principles of light, color, drawing, or edges. In one of my figure-drawing classes, I was chastised for actually drawing the model. Apparently, I would have gotten a better grade if I had translated the model's image into an unrecognizable abstract design. In one semester-long class, the only student who walked away with an A on her report card drew two little square boxes on a huge sheet of newsprint—I could understand this if she had drawn boxes that somehow related to the figure, but they were just a couple of poorly drawn squares.
That was in my junior year, and I admit that I lost all interest in continuing my studies at that point. I was on a full scholarship, but my grades took and hit, and I barely kept those grades high enough to continue. After college, I worked for a computer company and hardly touched my art supplies. I guess one could say I was burned-out on art.
Thankfully, in 1990, my desire to pursue art rose to the surface again. I began to study with a local watercolor teacher and took workshops with major instructors. It was at this point that I started getting the education I had always hoped for, and I've continued to study with masterful painters until this day.
This blog's purpose is not to put down the education system but to highlight the fact that we artists have opportunities to get an art education as we have never had before. There's nothing stopping us! Even if you can't afford workshops or classes, there are great videos, books, and magazines to teach you—I can honestly state that one issue of Workshop <$> magazine offers so much more than I learned in four years of college. No, I don't get a kickback if you buy the magazine, but I do wholeheartedly recommend it.
Even today, I seek to improve both my understanding and skill set in the arena of representational art. (I do enjoy looking at good abstract art but don't enjoy making it). I can't thank my mentors and instructors enough for their contributions to the world of artists. I am so thankful that I am an artist at this time in history when opportunities to learn from the best abound.