Why You Should Study Art


Youth, they say, is wasted on the young. Not always, of course, but the older I get, the more I understand the sentiment. In part, your youth is spent resenting the requirements of school. I, for one, was 27 before I truly enjoyed learning for the first time. I went back to college then, partly to explore the curiosity about learning that was suddenly bubbling up inside me. The feeling of anticipation, sitting on the edge of my seat as my professors would unveil the techniques of art or the stories of art history, is burned in my memory like an old master’s etching.


The view from my window at La Casa Berti

And so,  I find myself at 43, still on the edge of my seat, still, and even more so, ready to learn.

There are times when I feel so completely disappointed that we get but one life to learn all of the many joys there are in this world. So one must make choices: Do I want to learn a little about a lot, or a lot, about a little?

To a certain extent, each of us makes our compromises in our learning to something in between those two extremes. If you’re really lucky, you’ll learn a lot about something, but keep with you an endless curiosity about everything.

This is where I find myself. At a place in my life that is fully dedicated to art. The unfolding and excavation of all things art. From history to technique — yes, please, sign me up!

With my great need to learn more, I started looking for a place to go, and I landed back in Florence.  Florence, Italy, is the most beautiful blending of so many areas of interest. Somewhere around the mid part of the fifteenth century the Renaissance bloomed. “Renaissance” literally means rebirth, a rebirth of knowledge and learning.  And Florence was the epicenter of this return to the exploration Ancient Greek and Roman ways — philosophy, art and curiosity.

In ancient Greece and Rome art, science, math, and philosophy were being mixed together, each one helping the other to flourish and grow.  In  ancient art we can see this in the use of perspective, scale, and humanism.  Then during the middle ages- for a thousand years it was lost.  During those dark days there was a mass regression.  It wasn’t until the Renaissance that we began to return to what had already been discovered,  and math, science & philosophy joined with art once again.

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Atmosphere of the setting sun on a cloudy night — it was really quite extraordinary.

Now, my thirst for learning has pulled me to this place where some of the greatest artists once worked.  Returning to structure and methods that have been proven over time. Step by step, those before us in the history of art have figured out how it can be done. Sometimes, as artists, our egos can stop us from pursuing the work of past masters, and in those moments we need to learn to step away from it.  A time comes when we need to surrender ourselves to the teachers from our pasts, in order to find our own way, just a bit easier. It is the circle of learning: structure, exploration, reflection.

What holds us back from learning, from pursuing what we love? I am here to tell you that there are steps you can take along a well traveled path to begin your explorations.  Will you take that path?

Will you expose yourself to something new?

Will you boldly go forth and make art?


Inside the Casa Berti Studio

I hope the answer is yes–if only to learn to see the world from a deeper more meaningful place.  I hope you will come along with me to learn just a bit more about the ways in which artists see the world. How beautiful the world can be when it is seen with profound and sometimes excruciating detail.

As always the best conversations happen on Facebook and Instagram. Have you been following this latest trip and if so what have you learned? Or what trips have you taken that helped to you to learn and grow? Trips where you physically left home or simply took a journey of the mind … I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Buongiorno! Hello from Florence


Florence!  Sigh. It’s long been a very special place to me. When I am there, or I think about my time spent there, the word that comes to mind is reverence. All that art, still there in this Tuscan town. Still in the places it was made for, there is nothing like it. It’s like the ghosts of geniuses walk the streets with you.


Michelangelo’s  David At the Academia Gallery in Florence.

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The faces of people gazing up at the David sculpture by Michelangelo.  This sculpture, completed in 1504, holds us in its gaze still.

Over ten years ago, I spent a semester studying art in Mexico. It was a profound time in my growth as a artist. The underlying current there was passion. A quote from my teacher was “I don’t care what the subject looks like, show me how you feel about it”
That is a quote I will never forget, it has deep meaning for me and I can see it reflected in the way I create. Each country has its own value system around art. When you study art in places with deep the cultural ties to  their art, the more you will feel that value system in the way art is taught.

Two years ago I packed my bags to study in Florence. I didn’t know what to expect. Italy has such a deep deep rooted relationship to art and was the birthplace of the Renaissance. But the Italians are so passionate, would that passion spill over into a freedom in art as it did in Mexico?

No. No is the answer. The passion for art is tied tight like a bow around the classical tradition of art. When you grow up surrounded by so much unbelievable classical art, when your teachers are the likes of Michelangelo, you don’t really need to move past that. You put that up on a pedestal and honor it. And so, I return to the word reverence.


Botticelli’s Birth of Venus at the Uffizi Gallery

I’ve spent weeks returning to drawing in preparation and now my bags are packed; and my knees buckle just a bit, as my heart beats just a bit faster, thinking of heading off to study, in that city, with so much mind boggling art, by so many classical and historically important artists. This study will not be about searching for the freedom in art, it will be about discipline. This study is about learning as much as I can, so later, at another time, I can break through from a place of knowing, into the place of freedom I first experienced in Mexico, and long to return to in art. But for now, reverence.

Left: Studying in Florence 2 years ago, Right: a few drawings I have been working on in preparation for my studies.

Just a note- I am writing this on Saturday, the day I will fly out. You’re most likely reading this on Monday, when I am already in Florence, already beginning my studies. So please tune into to my Facebook and Instagram pages, where I will be uploading in real time, and bringing you all along with me on this adventure.