nina colors

Did I Learn Anything in Art School?

Posted on: December 10, 2009

This is something I get asked about a lot; what do they teach you in art school?  The short answer it that they don’t.  Anyone who has seen the movie “Art School Confidential” will come away no longer regretting that they “missed something”.

But (there’s always a but – right?) — even tho the teachers don’t do much teaching, what you do get is an amazing amount of studio time to develop your skill as you watch others and learn about the great artists of the past.  Each class (like sculpting 101) is called a “studio” and is 4 hours long. You have 2 studios/day, which means you are working at developing your art skills (painting, drawing, glassblowing, soldering, etc.) 8 hours a day, including Saturday.  That’s 48 hrs/week, and that doesn’t count time in the evening finishing up a piece or two.

That is how we really learn in art school  Learning to question, to try, to fail, to “see”, to steady the eye-hand coordination. And you do it YOURSELF!  Don’t ask me what the professors were doing; I vaguely remember them walking around:-)

I got off the track for a long time, but am now able to replicate this time spent honing my craft by painting every day and every hour that I can.  By going to the library and actually reading about the artists I was supposed to be studying back then. I have my own “studios”, and I’m teaching myself to use many different kinds of media, as well as cramming in all I can about color and composition.

We’re all self-taught; don’t you think?


5 Responses to "Did I Learn Anything in Art School?"

Hey Nina, I’m so glad you’re painting and experimenting again. I agree, I’ve never had much luck with the college setting. The good ol’ library + my own experimentation has taught me the most. Sometimes I like to look at the kids books for biographies on our ancestor artists. Some of the kids series have great little exercises too.

Thanks for your comment, i feel good about my alone time 🙂

I love this post, Nina. I’m learning to work with clay at home with the help of two potters who have a studio nearby. I don’t want to underestimate how much they’ve helped me, but a lot of what I’ve learned has come from the three books I bought from Amazon. In fact, I’ve given them a few tips from the books, tips they knew nothing about and which they were very glad to receive.

Then two weeks ago, I decided to make my first two cups (my daughter-in-law had asked for a small cup for my two-year old granddaughter because they like to drink tea together in the morning). I made the body of the cups, using the pinch method, but then realized I had no idea how to put handles on a cup. It was Thanksgiving week and my two potters weren’t available. I entered pottery-cups-handles into Google and up came several links to You Tube videos on making and then attaching handles to cups. I watched three of them and then got to work. This doesn’t quite fit the category of “self-taught” but I thought it was close enough!

oh yes, I’ve been rescued many times by youtube:-) I do think that qualifies for self-taught — you’ve just skipped most of the failures of trial and error! Pictures, please?

I think you should be strong and self confident (or just old) to learn technique only and not be influenced by teacher’s style of drawing. For the young adults looking for their artist’s way there is a lot risk to lose themselves (specially in Russia, where the teacher is always the boss).
And thank you for the idea about w/c paper, someday I’ll give it a try for sure.

I love it that you have created your own “studios”. How many hours a day are you working now? I also love the big sign on your apartment window. Yes!

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