Monthly Archives: March 2017

Learn, Grow, Teach



A copy from Henry Yan’s book Figure Drawing

The best teachers are also students, and a great student will share what they learn and teach along the way.

That will be my focus as March turns to April. Women’s History Month was a lot of fun; I loved learning more about the women who made art history, and their struggles and triumphs inspired me. It made me think about the importance of giving 200%, and what is possible when you set your sights just a bit higher.


A copy of an Andrew Wyeth dry brush painting. Doing this study taught me a lot. I think I’ll do more. It was my first attempt at dry brush.

It also got me thinking about sharing art and teaching. The journey of an artist doesn’t seem to have as much meaning unless you’re growing and sharing along the way.


Le sigh! This book is a must for lovers of landscapes and Turner.

Art books are a personal passion. One of my all time favorites is J.M.W. Turner’s “Painting Set Free.” I could turn its pages endlessly, looking at the way he truly did set painting free in the last fifteen years of his life. For many masters it is the same: In their later years, their art gets looser and freer. The Impressionists are another example of this. Personally, I think this freedom comes from a place of mastery. When you know your craft so well you can seemingly do it in your sleep. When you have so much muscle memory built up from years of honing your skills, then you have great freedom. So it is that I want to be an abstract painter when I grow up, so I’m returning again to the classical world.


A living master: Henry Yan’s “Figure Drawing” is an incredible teacher and amazing to turn the pages of.

In mid-April, I’ll be heading back to Florence and Tuscany to study from a more classical form. To prepare myself, I’m copying from the masters. Copying? Yes, of course, it is part of any classical training. It is imperative that you say you are copying, and never claim the idea as your own, but copying is learning in the art world. If you go into any of the world’s great museums, you will often find artists copying from the masters. And that is how so many of the masters started their own education. Turner spent time in the National Gallery copying from those who went before him, and so it goes.

You learn from going where those before you went. I’m studying from life as well, attending live sessions with models, as I will be studying from life in Italy. I am preparing to be a good student, and the best way to learn is to teach, so I hope you come along with me on this month of discovery. I plan to be on posting a lot of information for you, so you can learn along with me. Because if I believe anything, it’s that art is for everyone!

What about you? What have you learned that you turned around and taught? I love hearing from you. The best conversations are on Facebook and Instagram, I hope to see you there!


A copy from Henry Yan’s book Figure Drawing

The Nude in Art


A 10-minute line drawing from a few weeks ago

I went back to school at 27, starting in photography and soon finding my place further down the hall, where the art of painting was happening.

It became clear early on — and without much thought by me — that when you study art, you have to learn to draw the undraped body. So I signed up and pretty quickly understood every challenge an artist faces is dealt with in life drawing, also called drawing the undraped model.


A copy of a Rembrandt I did in college

The “undraped” part is important because cloth allows you to lie, to not paint an area you are struggling with. With no draping, you cannot lie. If your measurements are off, perspective is skewed;  if the light’s not right, it’s all very obvious, and this forces you to be better. So I never gave another thought to it. This is what artists do, and it’s helpful. Wow, is it ever helpful.


Another college throwback: this one, a copy of a Michelangelo

As a student of history, the nude in art has always been present, but in studying art history, you quickly learn each time period had its own feelings and unspoken rules about how exactly this subject should be handled. For example, it has almost always been that your model could not be looking directly at you — that’s too forward, the eyes must be averted. What?

Since my education as an artist started, conversations around the nude in art have been uncomfortable for me. I want the conversation to go away because it’s a genre that is critical to the education of a artist. But it doesn’t go away. And so I will continue to talk about it.


A study done last summer

Soon, I will be going back to Italy to study, primarily to paint and draw the undraped model. Why? Because every time I do it, I am reminded how it makes me a better artist. And as an artist, I hope never to arrive, but to always be in a state of learning and growing, to be better than I was the week before. And so, I continue my commitment to working from models, undraped. I hope you will come along with me for this learning experience. As I learn, I teach, and I hope you’ll join me on this adventure starting April 15.

For me, this subject of the nude in art is not about arguing the point; it’s about the experience of learning art. It’s just very matter of fact. Of course, it can be argued that you can learn art without this genre, and that is true, but if you’ve studied from life, you probably won’t find yourself arguing against the practice. You will most likely “get it” (though there are exception to every rule).

So what about you? What are your thoughts and feelings about the nude in art? As always, I love your thoughts and feedback. The best conversations can be found on Facebook and Instagram where you I can be found most everyday.