How to be an Artist – In three easy steps (or as many as you need)

When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college – that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared at me, incredulous, and said, “You mean they forget?” – Howard Ikemoto

I just spent a wonderful weekend with friends, who looked around our house and commented on the art that Linda and I create. Our home usually evokes comments such as, “I wish I was artistic” or “I can’t even draw a stick figure.”

When friends say these things, I always feel the need to remind them that being an artist is mostly about not being intimidated by the process.  I came to a point in my life where my current life was not making me happy, so I tried very hard to remember what made me happy in the past.  I knew I loved to sing in college, so I joined a local choir and found my voice again.  Then I went even further into my past and remembered with great clarity the great dane dog I drew with my “John Nagy Art Kit”.  I was in 4th or 5th grade, and I was so very proud of that picture.  I wanted to find out if I could have that wonderful feeling again.

Fortunately, Linda and I lived close to Philadelphia, which has so many resources for budding artists.  I signed up for all the free beginning classes at Philadelphia’s Fleischer Institute http://www.fleisher.org/ – a community based art school with amazingly talented faculty from all the local art colleges.  This was not your local adult school art class, but functioned as a true art school, and even helped students develop portfolios so they could continue on to other more formal education.  I took classes in the evening and weekends in jewelry making at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, and attended anatomy demonstrations with Al Yury and watched Nelson Shanks paint a portrait at Studio Incamminati.   http://www.studioincamminati.org

They did not teach me to draw, they taught me how to learn to draw. And while I still cannot decide whether to be serious.  Image or silly. Image    I enjoy every day spent in my studio.  If you don’t live close to a city like Philly, there is always the library or local book store, and free or low cost online art classes.   http://www.free-online-art-classes.com/   or http://www.free-online-art-classes.com/ .  Don’t stop playing.

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