Back to School

This past week, I started the drawing and painting program at the Florence Academy of Art. A day at the academy consists of 3 hours standing at an easel in my studio and 3 hours standing at an easel in the model (human figure) room. Three times a week, there is a supplemental 2 hour class either on anatomy, figure drawing, or other topics relevant to the kind of art we are making. The drawing and painting program lasts for 3 years. There are three trimeters, and I will have summers off. Given the time commitment, it is likely that I will be much less productive as far as my own personal work goes.
Lately, that personal work has been watercolor landscapes and decorative, concrete paving stones. Both of these types of art are not what I would consider purely “fine art.” They are decorative objects. There is nothing wrong with that fact. It is simply worth acknowledging that I make them because they are at some level practical. They serve a function and/or aesthetic need.
At the heart of it, though, art making is a liberal art. (For more on the definition of liberal art, read Josef Pieper’s book Leisure, the Basis of Culture.) This means, in part, that in order for me to sustain creative activity, I need to be connected to that source in me that delights in creating for no other reason than because it delights in creating.
This time at the Florence Academy of Art is likely to be a time of intense focus on technical development. I am going to learn *how* to represent things visually in a few specific mediums. At the same time, I hope it will also be a time of deepening my understand of what I, as an unrepeatable person with a unique perspective, must/desire to make. I indent to continue to do my plein air and sell them because, hey, being about to sustain myself financially is a really important part of being free to make those great things I’m going to learn to make. But, again, there’s more beyond the landscapes. I can feel it, and I want to dig.
So, what I’m going to try is this: at the end of each week, I’m going to post a reflection on what went on at the academy that week and what that has to do with the big picture of what to make and why. Maybe I’ll go beyond that, but I don’t know.
Anyways, for an exercise like this, it helps to have an audience. Then I know I am “talking” to someone. So, enjoy…

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