It can be a mark of pride in art to be “self-taught,” to be an Autodidact, Visionary, or Outsider artist. Despite Abe Lincoln’s warning that, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client,” to a degree all artists can claim the title of being self-taught. Hours leading to years of blind groping for uncertain results truly place one face to face with oneself. There are also those who believe they are self-taught even though they grew up with parents who were artists. And others who benefited from having had a significant role model in an aunt, a grandfather, or a famous painter.
I am not in that group. To the contrary, I have indulged in having had a surfeit of teachers. I went to RISD at 19 where I earned a BFA, then to Boston University at 52 for an MFA. I painted on my own and took night classes during a design and illustration career in high-tech. I left work to study with a Boston painter for several years, later attended 3- and 5-day workshops, and learned from professional artists in month-long residencies.
Last week I was a student again. The workshop precisely matched the adjunct curriculum I’ve taught for four years: draw all the time, do studies in black and white, add grey to locate the shape of mid-tones, use color in a limited palette, mix double primaries that are rooted in observation, and push limited flat color in expressive ways. Being both teacher and student continues to consolidate my foundation for growth as an artist.
ABOVE: Bottle & book — four mixed colors from double primaries, oil on gessoed paper, 7.5 in x 7.75 in, 2018
Compote — limited palette: black, white, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, oil on gessoed paper, 10.75 in x 14.25 in, 2018
Compote — black, white & grey, oil on gessoed paper, 10.75 in x 14.25 in, 2018
Compote — black & white, oil on gessoed paper, 10.75 in x 14.25 in, 2018
Compote — graphite on paper, 14 in x 17 in, 2018