Artwork by Arthur Marlin
I have dabbled in arts and craft for a long time. My father gave up a career in the arts because of the financial circumstances at the time. He however had a great influence on my brother and myself. There was never a place we went where the art museum was not a priority visit. Although we both choice professional careers, we would often go on painting vacations together. He had more time to devote to the arts and won several military and local awards. I on the other hand just drabbled and at business meeting would draw anything from the cups on the table to the person sitting across from me. Since I retired I have devoted more time to my painting and drawing. I have taken classes and done many workshops.
Several issues with this approach have become apparent. The first and most troublesome is the lack of honest criticism. In chess there is a saying: If you find a good move, look for a better one.” In art a drawing or painting can always be improved. One needs to continually step back and find things to correct or improve on. This concept is not apparent in the workshops I have attended. Everyone is concerned about political correctness and not hurting anyone’s feelings. All students get an “A”. The second problem is that in many of these, one ends up copying the instructor, step by step, close but not quite painting by the numbers – a picture done in just a few hours. I think this approach is fine if the desired result is a decorative piece of craft. I don’t, however think that it is likely to produce a work of art – something that is transformative, inspiring, perhaps even enduring. Something that is not a product of chance.
I believe that the best way to produce a piece of art stems from methods tried and true. It requires a strong infastructure. The old masters knew that and it was in inherent part of their work. The Mona Lisa was not a product of a 6 hour workshop or even a week workshop. The Angel School takes four to six years to complete. I hope to learn how to build that infastructure and build upon it in the Old Masters Academy.