How did you learn art?

Hermes2020

Well-known member
Messages
289
I studied chemistry at university: the usual BSc, BSc Honours, MSc, and finally PhD — this all took 8 years. A year before I finished my PhD, I had a sudden urge to do ceramics, so I joined a weekly evening pottery class at the local art school. I loved it so much that I decided to leave science after I completed my organic chemistry doctorate. I then applied, and was accepted, as a student at the Central School of Art in London, to study ceramic sculpture under Eduardo Paolozzi, one of my heroes. After finishing my PhD in chemistry, I had a six month wait for the new year to start my sculpture course with Paolozzi, so decided to accept a post-doctoral organic chemistry research and lecturing post at London University.

I never changed over to the art school, and for the rest of my working life remained a scientist, mostly in the academic world, so I never had any formal art training. Now that I am retired, I am finally able to work on the art projects I always dreamed of doing.

As a footnote: I did subsequently meet Paolozzi at the opening of his exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery, where I bought one of his pieces.
 

Artyczar

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
4,449
What an interesting background. :) I always had a secret fantasy to be a chemist, or a stand-up comedian. Ha ha. If I wasn't an artist. That is, if I had any talent for either.
 

Katie

Well-known member
Messages
290
I peg “my audacious art start” at about 6yo. In grades 1-3, I was selected to sit at my desk and draw for the parents who came for our annual “art night.” It was like our Oscars. Bratty me hovered over my drawing so they couldn’t see what I was doing. I sold my first artwork to the high school janitor, and when I won a $100 art award, I cut school because I didn’t want to walk on stage in front of everybody at the ceremony. Also bratty. And probably disrespectful.

Then, I went to a small liberal arts college in Ohio, across the river from West Virginia. Majored in art. Took a year off to work as a waitress at the Tally Ho Restaurant that had pigs feet in jars on shelves and lived in a $45 a month dump with Mike (now, the hub) which we could barely afford. Geesh. Transferred to a large university (Syracuse in NY) and I graduated with a BFA in illustration. Honestly, I don’t know what I learned there and don’t think I specifically applied anything learned to anything experienced. My first post-college job was in NYC doing mechanical work for porno ads. And it was all uphill/downhill from there for the next 35 jobs in 37 years (not counting all the freelance and temp jobs).

I retired a year ago. Well, really... I just quit working because I couldn’t handle any more bossy bosses telling me what to do. I got a little snappy and snotty with the last two. And now I’ve discovered that there’s no big difference between a retired painter and a quarantined painter....you just get up and go paint. Despite the fact that I’ve painted steadily between the jobs and kid raising and moving around...I’m not sure I know how to paint “all proper.” Still.

I don’t think art school made a whit of difference for me.

So there!
Well, I like your work and so I think you must have picked up something along the way... :)
 

Katie

Well-known member
Messages
290
I appreciate what you're saying, but I just can't agree with you that no one is self taught. That is an opinion based on the assumption that you "can't imagine" that no one would ever open a book on how to draw. Or that no one ever showed them something, or that they didn't take a class "at some point." I will agree with you that an artist, as they continue to work into their adult years can't stay under a rock forever. Once they live in this society, they will evolve, a least master their own technique, and get more exposed to other artists. But that doesn't mean anyone showed them how to hold a brush--ever, or showed them how to draw a bunny or a human head. How can you not differentiate the truly self-taughts from someone who went to school?

People that went to school at a young age at least were shown how to eat paste and make a mother's day cards out of popsicle sticks or, something. I never did, but I wouldn't blame someone who claims to be self-taught if that was their only exposure to being taught art by a teacher. I'd say they were still self-taught. That's craft, not art. Either way, I wouldn't know. I got no formal education, not even grammar school.

I don't believe Youtubers are "self-taughts" as they are getting lessons on their computer. People who study HOW TO paint are not self-taught. People who paint and figure it out on their own are self-taught. No one gave them one bit of confirmation as to what they were doing was even close to whether what they were doing was in the right direction or in the right ballpark.

People in arts schools get that luxury. A teacher, a mentor, critique, socialization, other artists, comparison, I can go on. But do you see what I mean?
I agree entirely. I remember feeling frustrated because I knew that I was learning the hard way.
 

Katie

Well-known member
Messages
290
It has been interesting reading this thread. (y) I like the photos here and the stories. I'll still read some pages but mean while I write about my learning experiences.

Ok, few words about my art education. I have participated some oil painting workshops and atelier. Since everyone is adding photos I also add some I did in the workshops/classes.

My first ever oil painting/art class was a workshop in Italy, Florence. It was a landscape painting workshop and lasted one month. The organizer was the Florence Academy of Art. I was very beginner to oil painting and it was difficult to stand next to the good painters but I learned a lot.
(I can't find the photos of the paintings from that trip but if I do I'll add them here later if it's possible to edit.)

The following year I went to another workshop to Italy, Umbria, with few other artists that I had known in the earlier class. I was given false information and thought it would be a still life workshop but it was landscape again. The teacher was one of the head teachers in Florence Academy of Art (different than earlier year´s teacher) and I learned more from both the teacher and other participants who actually were art teachers themselves too.
View attachment 2061

This is getting boring but ... next workshop was in Italy again with a teacher that is one of the leading plein air painters in the world now and was already then and makes his living by selling art in New York and elsewhere in US the past 10 or 20 yrs so this workshop I chose not by location but by the teacher that truely masters plein air. I again learned a lot and had fun. Made life time friends and have met some later in Europe painting plein air together. I still repeat in my mind this workshop teacher´s advices when I paint and use the materials that he uses. The plein airs below are from Marsillana, Italia. The 1st one is Orbetello. The castello is Corsini Castle. The ancient churches are in San Bruzio in Toscana-Grosseto.
View attachment 2062

Then the story makes a turn because I was in a situation that I didn´t know what to do: I was measuring in my head if I should go back to my first profession, engineering (work hard and be rich), or continue with art (work hard and be poor). My husband thought I should continue with art and so I decided to go to an art school full time student to Italy again. The school is an atelier actually and it´s name is Angel Academy of Art and it´s located in Florence. I went there to do the full program but I haven´t finished it. Here I add some works I did while I was there: 3 pencil Bargues, pencil Old Master copy, life figure drawings (long poses), and some charcoal cast. All below. We did there a lot of drawing and homework but I can't post it all:
View attachment 2063
View attachment 2064

Last fall I participated a brand new local atelier here near where I live (only 7 minutes drive from my front door) which is profounded by a Florence academy teacher and I wanted to learn what I missed in the other atelier in Florence: to draw a cast with charcoal properly. The ear was a struggle and was never actually accepted as a finished work. I continued this year in January painting a cast with oils but the classes were stopped in March because of corona virus restrictions. Below you can see the charcoal cast done in a local new atelier here near me:
View attachment 2065

In between those workshops and classes explained above I went to a short two week lasting portrait painting workshop to Atelier Madrid, which in Madrid, Spain. It was all very good and I learned a lot. I have done portraits with the method I learned there. This workshop was in December and I was enjoying not only the wonderful atelier classes but also the city of Madrid with all the Christmas stuff all around. Here's the life painting we did of the very good (she didn't move a bit in two weeks!) model Marisa. mine became a little too dark in color because I hadn't really painted portraits before so I had no idea how to handle light, face, color or anything. I just followed teacher's advice.
View attachment 2066

After that I participated a portrait painting workshop to Seville, Spain. Again the teacher is a world wide well known artist but that was a big mistake because he didn´t want or come to teach me nor the lovely Sevillan student next to me at all. We asked the teacher to come and teach us too but he always said ´no, I have to be over there now´ and he never came to us. We were puzzled and didn't know why. Well I painted this portrait below by watching the Spanish student on my other side painting hers with instructions and plenty of help from this teacher. She had almost the same angle to the model so I could follow her at least since the teacher didn´t want to teach me. This workshop was only a short 5 day thing but it was frustrating. I haven´t taken workshops from artists after that. I don´t dare. Below is the painting I did in this catastrophic workshop:
View attachment 2068

Now I´m painting landscapes and portraits by myself with this kind of ´education´ background. Still life I´m now learnig on an Internet class by a teacher I admire but we have classes only few times per month. I feel I'm learning a lot with him. Just wanted to share with you all how did I learn art. 😌🖌
Very impressive - Keep up the great work!
 

Desforges

Well-known member
Messages
729
Got my first oil painting set at ten and have learned to paint by myself. As far as I can think, I was always in charge of the art school projects, would build houses of cardboard in my backyard and sit in them with my cats.
After high school, I went to Arts Appliqués de Montréal. I was 17 and did not know what I was going to do. It was a technical school where they taught you about styles , decoration, style and art history, forge , welding and ceramics. I went into pottery and learned to throw clay for two years. We also had modeling classes. I loved those classes and my teacher told me to go to fine art school and to get into sculpting . So I did that, was 20 and took one year learning to make plaster moulds and stuff like that. I also took my first drawing classes and then came 68 , the year when students took over the school and occupied it for several months. The political climate in Montreal was very tense. Everything was on pause. Was the Fine Art School of Montreal become part of the new university or remain independent. They voted for the integration,
Left for the west coast to live and wander. Drawing was always something that I took for granted. I illustrated children’s books (sub contracted). I painted friends’ buses, murals, made a lot of stuff like jewelry, cards, paintings for Seva, learned about theatre design just by doing it. Even worked at moulding car parts, motorcycle tanks.
Made money with the skills I had collected along the way.
Finally at 50 , got a bachelor degree in Creation at UQAM and have painted ever since.
 

Artyczar

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
4,449
What a full life of art and artistic adventure. It sounds like you were resourceful all the way through. I love that. ❤ I love the cardboard house bit. It reminds me of a short story I wrote about a little girl that build a house out of cardboard to get away from her mean parents under instruction of her dead dog that spoke to her (on how to build the house).
 

HaroldRoth

New member
Messages
21
We had art in grade school--mostly painting with poster paints or watercolors (Prang!) and coloring with colored pencils (color walks). I drew all the time at home and wanted to be an artist when I grew up. We went to art museums on trips and I remember being so awed by some Rothko paintings--the colors and how they kind of enveloped the viewer. I mostly looked at art in the encyclopedia, but I did take one class in watercolor where we painted the same red barn over and over and my homeroom teacher was also taking the class (awp!). My parents gave me some oil paints when I was a young teenager but I hated their sticky quality and the smells. I painted one painting that was a copy of a painting of a boat. I hated it.

I applied to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and attended for a year and a half. I wasn't disciplined enough to be at any school at that time, but I did learn. I had some good teachers, but more, I walked through the museum to get to class every day. They had great stuff--Van Gogh, Caillebotte, O'Keefe, Lautrec, and my favorite, Monet. That was almost 50 years ago, but I am still inspired by his haystack paintings and have constantly experimented with trying to achieve the stuff he did with color--the glow. I also got to meet a bunch of other artists in art school, which had a big effect on me. Unfortunately, I had to drop out due to my father becoming unemployed.

I continued to make art, mostly with colored pencils, and sold my first painting for $35. I almost never drew or painted anything from life. Just imaginary landscapes and people. I did various jobs that had nothing to do with art.

Eventually I went back to college but not for art. I wanted to make a living, and I didn't see how that was possible for me in art, even though I knew people who were doing it. They all seemed to have something I did not. I ended up getting a PhD and was an academic for a while. Dropped out of academia and became a ghostwriter, then opened an online shop selling scented oils and incense I made. That's where I learned to sell, and that helped a lot with my art--selling it and just being business-like about it.

I got back into art with seriousness maybe about 15 years ago and consumed everything about painting I could find, mostly books and videos about technique in watercolor, biographies of artists, and art history. I took up acrylics for a while and then switched to oils. Using an oil-based technique instead of solvents made a huge difference for me. But I always return to watercolor. I feel it is much more demanding than oils--there are no scrape-offs or do-overs--so I always feel there is tons more for me to learn and I like that. Also, I love how the brush feels on paper and how easy it is to make an elegant line in watercolor. I rented a studio for two years and that made for a huge leap forward in my art, since I went to paint every day to justify that money I was spending.

I have not had a huge success with selling my art, but I do have collectors and after all these years, feel like I can call myself an artist. If I had another life, I'd go back to art school and learn ceramics and glass.
 

Artyczar

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
4,449
Harold, thank you for sharing all that. So much I didn't know about you and now I do! :) Great history. I have a couple of friends that went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and they liked it, but neither of them make art anymore.
 

musket

Well-known member
Messages
896
Sigh.

Many people confuse rheumatoid arthritis with osteoarthritis. They are entirely different.

Rheumatoid is an inflammatory autoimmune disease, in which the immune system goes berserk and tries to eat the lining of the joints (synovial fluid). Osteo is just wear and tear.

No one knows the cause of RA. It lies dormant in the body for decades. There's no early warning for it, no way to detect it before the symptoms manifest themselves, by which time it's like a wildfire

I've been drinking a gallon of water a day for twelve years. Without meds, it didn't touch it. I tried distilled as well for a whole year and found no difference. Only finding effective meds, after six years of searching while in horrendous pain and swelling, ameliorated but did not eliminate the symptoms. Meds for RA take a long time to kick in--usually three months, sometimes as long as six--have only a 50% chance of working, and one size doesn't fit all.

I currently take Arava and get an injection of kenalog, a strong cortico-steroid, four times a year. This combination controls things pretty well, but not completely. Turmeric, a natural anti-inflammatory, has some benefit as a supplement.

Water is not a magic elixir for this disease. I've been dealing with chronic daily pain in my hands and wrists for fifteen years. Sometimes less, sometimes more. Please stop patronizing me. I'm not stupid.
 
Last edited:

Maybenartist

Well-known member
Messages
445
Makes one wonder why pharmaceutical companies pay fortunes to head hunt the top brains to find cures. My sympathies for your pain musket, to your synovial fluid, soft tissue and your ears listening to the banal.
 

musket

Well-known member
Messages
896
Please stop, John. I'm requesting this nicely for the last time. This is supposed to be a thread about how people learned art, not alternative treatments for autoimmune diseases written by New Age charlatans.
 
Top