Going it alone

6 years ago I got serious about my artistic development. Before, I’d always played at art—painting, drawing, leather masks, weaving—but I’d never spent concentrated time studying. Sure, I had ideas, but no skills to get those thoughts out of my head.

So I embarked on my own personal quest. Imagine the young (at least, younger than I am now) heroine setting off along a charcoal-dusty road.

I enrolled in the Atelier School of Classical Realism to study anatomy under Rob Anderson (4 years, every other Saturday). Along the way, I absorbed as much as I could from the school’s founder, David Hardy. I spent nearly every Tuesday night for 5 years working in watercolor with Steve Curl. I took workshops from Christian Fagerlund, Mary White, and Ted Nuttall. I studied color with Linda Lum. Most recently, I’ve been learning oil painting from Felicia Forte. They are all wonderful painters and teachers.

But recently during a workshop, as the teacher gave a short lecture on facial features, I realized that, because of the time constraints of a workshop, the instructor was pointing at a signpost on a road I’d already been traveling for half a decade.

A teacher is a good thing. They can stand at your shoulder and whisper directions into your ear, direct your hand, push you up the hill when you get stuck. But eventually the student has to do the work herself and synthesize all that she’s learned to create a thing that belongs to her.

I think that time has come for me. I need to hop off the classroom cart and travel on my own for a while. I need to take the paint-craft skills and ideas my teachers have given me and start a new quest in my studio.

I know that someday (probably soon) I’ll need to again join up with a teacher, but for now, I need to figure out some stuff on my own.

I need to spend some time walking down that painting road alone, on my own feet. Make solitary camp, live rough, and paint until my fingers bleed.

Some New Year resolutions never change.

Page out of sketchbook. Unfortunately, the dog and the caravan are a fantasy…

3 thoughts on “Going it alone

  1. Love this post—-and I recognize myself in it, too, and a similar resolution: “eventually the student has to do the work herself and synthesize all that she’s learned to create a thing that belongs to her.” Thanks!

    1. Hi Chris,

      For me, school has always been a very safe place. It’s very hard to make myself move from that space into one where I have to make my own decisions about my work. But I know I need to learn to trust my own gut feelings.

      1. Yes. . . I, too, enjoy the freedom of being the perpetual student, but Maggie—-you are also the teacher in this blog.

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