It can be a mark of pride in art to be self-taught, to be an Autodidact, Visionary, or Outsider artist. To a degree all artists can claim the title of being self-taught, despite Abe Lincoln’s warning that, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Hours lead to years of blind groping for uncertain results that truly place one face to face with oneself. There are also those who believe they are self-taught even though they grew up with artist parents. There are 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 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 a full-time job 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. Being a student is a lifelong habit.
A workshop last week precisely matched curriculum I’ve taught as an adjunct 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 limited palettes, mix double primaries rooted in observation, and push limited flat color in expressive ways. Being both teacher and student continues to strengthen my foundation 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