Heading off to art school

A typical day in the studio means a mix of youngsters and not-so-youngsters.
Tomorrow, two of my students are skipping class to attend National Portfolio Day at Syracuse University. I wouldn’t be encouraging students to pursue a career in the arts if I didn’t believe it was a viable career path.
Ever since President Obama said that “folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they with an art history degree,” educators have been falling all over themselves to point out the value of a humanities education.
If you’re not willing to work hard, it’s best to major in something less demanding.
Anyone who has ever paid a plumber knows that, strictly speaking, the president was right. Very few kids are encouraged to go into the trades in modern America, and these jobs pay very well. Nor should they have any stigma attached to them; a craftsman is a craftsman, no matter what material he’s working with.
There is nothing more fun than working with youngsters.
But money is only part of the job-satisfaction equation, and art majors are among the happiest of all professionals, scoring higher than lawyers, financial managers, and high school teachers.
Sadly, a recent comprehensive surveyadministered online to arts alumni seems to indicate less satisfaction among recent graduates than among old-timers.  This is no surprise, since they’re graduating into the worst job market since the Great Depression, and I’d wager that lower job satisfaction is true of recent graduates across all disciplines.
There is nothing more fun than working with youngsters, even when they are eating a deep-fried turkey leg in class.
Student debt is a specter haunting all new college graduates, but can be particularly crushing for those with arts degrees. Less than a third of recent art alumni graduated with no debt, whereas half the older students reported doing so. About 14% of recent graduates finished school with more than $60,000 in student debt.
So I want to see those high school seniors on the hunt not only for admission, but for scholarship money. The best way to do that is to produce outstanding portfolios. That is tremendously hard work. If they’re not willing to do it, it’s better for them to major in something less demanding. The art world is a ruthless culler of the unmotivated.

Message me if you want information about the coming year’s classes and workshops.

New classes starting this weekend

Studio in Art and portfolio preparation—starting Oct. 2, 2010

Saturday, 11 AM-2 PM

(Oil, pastel, acrylic, watercolor)
This class focuses on still life as a fundamental tool for developing drawing and painting technique. It is appropriate for both beginning and advanced students. Instruction emphasizes direct painting, where paint is applied solidly rather than through glazing. For watercolor and acrylic, the emphasis is on alla prima techniques.


Uninstructed Figure Workshop—starting October 8, 2010

Friday, 1-4 PM

Model fee. Please contact me if you’re interested.

The Kung Fu Fighters

I have recently had the opportunity to work with two young artists preparing portfolios for college. (Their work follows in the posts below.) They are laughingly called my Art Slaves since they have been in my studio seven days a week. One of my adult students wondered why they make such swift progress and she doesn’t. “If you’re willing to be chained to an easel seven days a week and do what you’re told, you can do it too,” I said. (But the charm of adult learners is that they are individualistic, stubborn, and idiosyncratic, and I wouldn’t have them any other way.)

Neither Sandy nor Ze had ever painted in oils before December. That they each have an oil painting in their portfolio is an indication of how hard they’ve worked.

Completed portfolio: Sandy Puifong Quang

Sandy Puifong Quang is 19 and will graduate from Monroe Community College in May with an AS in liberal arts and a GPA of around 3.5. Although she has always loved design, Sandy didn’t know she loved art until she began taking studio classes at MCC. Sandy speaks three dialects of Chinese along with some Russian and French. Her family are refugees from the fall of Vietnam and run a restaurant in Rochester.

Sandy started working with me seriously in the summer of 2007, although I have known her for many years.

Self-portrait with catalogs, graphite on paper, approx. 18X24, 2007

Peonies life drawing, graphite, approx. 18X20, 2007

Skeleton life drawing, graphite, approx. 18X24, 2007

Peonies life drawing, pastel, approx. 9X12, 2008

Patrick, oil on canvas, approx. 18X24, 2008

My parents’ restaurant, graphite on paper, approx. 16X18, 2008

Sneakers and keys, graphite on paper, approx. 18X18, 2007

Gourds and squash, watercolor, approx. 20X20, 2007

Fred, collage, approx. 12X9, 2006

30-minute figure sketch, graphite on paper, approx. 18X24, 2007

My room and gnome, collage and graphite, approx. 12X12, 2007

Figure sketch, graphite on paper, approx. 18X24, 2007

Figure sketch, graphite on paper, approx. 18X24, 2007

Figure sketch, graphite on paper, approx. 18X24, 2007

Figure sketch, graphite on paper, approx. 18X24, 2007

Completed portfolio: Zeyuan Chen

Zeyuan Chen is 17 and will graduate from Brighton High School in June with three APs and a GPA of around 3.7. Ze emigrated from Kunming Prefecture at age 9. Her native language is Mandarin but she speaks flawless English. Ze’s father is a professor in China and her mother trained as a mathematician but works as a waitress here. (She completed this portfolio while maintaining excellent grades at one of the top 100 public high schools in the US.)
Ze started studying with me in Fall 2007, although I’ve known her for much longer than that. She has studied Chinese calligraphy and painting, which is evident in the delicate brush work of her piece, Qing Yi, which is a setting of a friend’s poem.

Self-portrait, graphite, approx. 18X24, 2007

Sandy’s parents’ restaurant interior, graphite, approx. 18X24, 2008

Gail as Isabella with the pot of Basil, oil on canvas, approx. 18X24, 2008
Four bananas, colored pencil, approx. 18X24 overall, 2007

Peonies life drawing, graphite, approx. 18X24, 2007
My shoe, graphite, approx. 18X24, 2007
Qing Yi, colored pencil and ink calligraphy, approx. 18X24, 2007
Skeleton life drawing, graphite, approx. 18X24, 2008
Sock, graphite, approx. 18X24, 2008
Pile of shoes, marking pen on newsprint, approx. 18X18, 2006
Foot, graphite, approx. 9X12, 2008
Shoes, colored pencil and marking pen, approx. 18X24, 2005
Classroom window molding, graphite, approx. 18X24,
10-minute figure sketch, marking pen, approx. 18X24, 2005

Mary as John the Baptist (unfinished), acrylic on canvas, approx. 18X24, 2007