Monday, September 26, 2011

Lessons Learned in Art School

Inspiration I keep on top of my flat file in the studio.
In Friday's post I mentioned art school and I started to think about all the information you get with your lessons, your projects, your critiques and from your teachers. It is stored somewhere. It happens whether you go to art school, take lessons, take workshops or are self taught. We learn tricks, get advice, gain wisdom and learn by doing. It is all passed on to your artistic self.  
They are there consciously and subconsciously. 

Some of my art supplies.
I want to share with you some lessons I learned in art school. 
I learned about:

I do consider it oxygen at times but I use it to give my paper an antique off white look. I do not ordinarily like to paint on pure bright white anything. It smells nice too.

Expensive supplies do not necessarily make better art.

If you come across trash on the side of the road give it a second look because someones trash maybe your art supplies. 
From a close friend, artist and mentor, while walking on the streets of New York. 
Sadly he is longer around and I miss him terribly to this day.

If the design does not work in black and white, color will not fix it or make it better. 
From my one of my design teachers.

In textile painting it is best to tone down bright whites with a "frass" amount of black. 
You and I might call it a smidgen, a dot, but one of my painting teachers called it 
a frass amount which translates to the amount of fly poop, yes frass means fly poop.

God is in the details. Some people say good is in the details. Also from one of my textile painting teachers.

Draw or sketch everyday it can be just a scribble or a doodle in your sketchbook, but make it a point to draw everyday. 
If you can make art everyday all the better.

Before jumping into a piece of work warm up with some gesture drawings, loops or circles to loosen up.

Good layout and design is more pleasing to the eye when elements of that composition 
are represented in odd numbers such as the number three. 
It gives the eye a place to rest and or stop.

At the end of the day the letters after your name do not matter. 
It is what is in your portfolio or body of work. 

Literally and figuratively. I think everyone should learn perspective.

Mies Van Der Rohe said less is more. When you are creating a piece of work and feel like you are done, stop. Walk away. 
Listen to your gut because if you keep fiddling with it you will end up disappointed with an overworked piece. 

Step back away from your piece and have a look. Look at it from different angle. Turn it upside down. You will see more this way. From a fine art painting professor.

If you are stuck use your less dominant hand to draw or paint. I happen to be right handed, I may have been forced by the nuns on this one. I say that because I have used this technique many times and I feel so comfortable drawing and sketching with my left. 
I think I was suppose to be a lefty. From one of my life drawing teachers.

 Never use more than three typeface styles on a given page. It creates font clutter. 
From a former boss.

You can create anywhere be it at the kitchen table, in a corner in the living room, or in the basement. Just create.  

From Colorado, to New York, to Massachusetts, to Connecticut,
I want to give a a million thanks to all the professors, teachers, instructors, 
mentors and former bosses, who took the time to pass on on their wisdom, 
take me under their wing, and share 
all things art and design.
 I know I carry a little piece of all of them in my artist self.

I just love being an artist!
Cover of Sketchbook sent out for Sketchbook Project 2011

I need to include my mom here with  because the best thing she ever said to me was to live life without regret and do everything! 
She bought me my first Vogue mag and a poetry book called Favorite Poems to Read Aloud. 
I carried  it everywhere I went as a child.
They were more of an influence than I ever realized. 

Tile I picked up in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico from
The Poet's Passage owned by Lady Lee Andrews
Would love to hear some of your learning experiences,
 lessons or tips you care to share.
Thanks for stopping by.


  1. You are so articulate and classy. Your blog is like a breath of fresh air. Only thing Ive really learned in my self taught to just trust your heart. xo

  2. What wonderful advice. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Great advice Deborah. I am loving reading through all your thoughts + seeing bits of your creations. Just lovely :)

  4. Hey Yasmeen! Nice of you to stop over.
    Congrats to you on your 100th post!
    Brilliant! That sure inspires me.

  5. Awesome post. Very inspirational. Thank you.

  6. You're so natural Deborah and I love reading your posts. This one was wonderful for someone like me who's new to the art world and didn't go to art school. I loved all these little tips and pieces of advice & I always love your fabulous artworks! Thankyou, Liza xxx

  7. Your cover is beautiful for the sketchbook project. What wonderful lessons to share with us, thank you.

  8. Great post Deborah. As I read though the list I kept thinking how many of these apply to interior design as well. ID and creating art are so closely related. When I'm designing a room, I can see it unfold in my mind like a painting on canvas. Thanks for sharing these insights.

  9. I love learning new things and a few of your lessons gave me food for thought. Thank you! Julie

  10. I love this post! Thank you for sharing such wonderful insight from some special people in your life..Your mom sounds amazing!

  11. Hi Deborah, I know your face from the facebook Flying Lessons group but I've only just now gotten around to visiting your blog! I'm very slowly working my way down the list. I found this blog post fascinating, as art school is a bit of a foreign land shrouded in mystery both dread and fantastic to me. I often read about the horrors of art school, which makes me glad I never went. On the other hand I'm enamoured with the idea of dedicating years to mastering a craft. I'd love to read more about your art school experience! I hope you'll consider writing more. x

  12. Hi Deborah! I found your blog through the Blogging Your Way Course.... and just wanted to say that I love this post! I have no art background so this was all really great advice! And then I get to the end of the article and see your link to the Poet's Passage in Old San Juan- what a small world. I lived in PR from 2007-2010. I'll definitely be following your blog to see more of your word art!


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