>From: "Geoffrey McClain" <email@example.com>
>I had almost no art in highschool (parochial) but my mother was an =
>artist and I seemed to have been born knowing how to draw.
my sons felt this way...though having art, as though their teacher's lack of
abilities could really take them no where. Their drawing teacher spent much
time on the telephone in the classroom, or reading the newspaper rather than
Yet...kids can be taught and to not give them what they can process and
understand is sad. You know...the presumption is that kids given
foundations, traditions, skills or...that a European/western emphasis
stressed are somehow missing out. Yet...I believe a student enabled to draw
or paint has the potential to learn also to experiment, be creative, use
imagination, cut loose and so forth; on the other hand, a student taught to
process and be imaginative only having been given very little if any
foundations has the deficit of not being able to draw or paint if they
One could credit it to genes...but I know in the family I grew up in where
there were no artists or musicians, that one can self-learn if one has the
drive and passion. I learned to draw and paint inspite of the fact I wish I
would have had better instruction. I taught myself to play the guitar
playing to this day having a couple cd's of my own out. I perform. tonight
as a matter of fact in a town three hours from here. Thing is, one of the
reasons I decided to become a teacher was to give of myself to kids in such
a way that they do not have to feel the despair I did, the frustration and
be in a position where they may have to reinvent the wheel for themselves.
I want to save them from having to bang their heads against the wall.
Not all will want to learn....but for those that do I've got things to show
'em, places to bring 'em.
My son at 27 years of age has developed national and international
recognition at high level caricaturing. Finished this past year personal
commissioned work for Arnold Schwarzeneger, did one of Harey Caray (former
Wrigley Field announcer) for a 40' wall mural at the Caray restaurant in
Chicago. He's done numerous magazine covers this far, and has just been
contacted by the Wall Street Journal. At the moment, he is working on two
movies in production...one staring Jennifer Anisten..this summer and gets to
meet the actors on set, and MTV has contacted him to work on a new series
they want to come out with in animation that would utilize his caricaturing
of celebs. Why contact him? Because he has developed an ability to draw
and to conceptualize.
He was offered a job at a firm where my sister works in Chicago that does
advertising work for Budweiser, Michael Jordan and many accounts...but
turned it down. Wasn't interested. I about died because he would have
earned about $500 per day. As I learned most students coming out of art
schooling they hire work on computers and can process, can do good work, but
struggle drawing and conceptualizing. When a client comes in with
$17million for a possible advertising job, they want an artist that can
easily quickly story board and draw ideas out perhaps even while the client
is talking. In such a way...they can close the deal much easier, but from
what I've heard it is very very hard to find good talent. Thing is...my boy
was pretty head strung what he wanted to do. Me? I'm punching calculators
figuring out what he could have earned...*sigh...whew!
My boy spent a good deal of his childhood drawing...and I had a studio in my
home working fulltime as an artist (when I wasn't teaching). I guided him,
encouraged and so forth. It wasn't genes. It was education.
Now...I can report that his mother and I could not afford to send him to any
fine art school much less any school, yet on a whim this past summer I
encouraged him just for the heck of it to take his portfolio to the Chicago
American Art Academy. That school well known for its artists such as Alex
Ross (of Marvel comicbook fame, Spiderman and so forth), Richard Schmid,
Scott Burdick, Scott Talman...on and on...to make a long story short, he was
given a scholarship for his four years to attend.
Students there could not believe looking over his work that he is there and
questioned him why with his talent he needed extra schooling. He has
demonstrated a high work ethic, the understanding that the way to improve is
to put yourself in a learning environment and be pushed. To remain
With a marriage and young daughter to care for...his building commissions,
and now this intense level of schooling. Quite a remarkable young man, a
right I have to feel proud I believe, but the point isn't just to use this
platform to boast. It is instead to ask...why? Why does he have such
skills. Why are so many at a high level seeking him out? What does he have
others do not and how did he get that?
I'll just say that it begins by not denying a young person the opportunity
to learn. To provide an environment where ready at hand is knowledge and
understanding, and patience to encourage and keep them going, keep them
My son had really mastered watercolor...but a couple Christmases ago asked
if I'd spend time with him and show him how to work with acrylics. We sat
at the kitchen table of his grandmothers and I did a step by step of a
nutcracker standing on the table. In fact, I have that step by step in a
thread on an artist's international arts community thread, wetcanvas.com and
will give a link. It shows the steps...and I'll show you what things he is
doing now. It all involves teaching. Foundations. Appealing to need and
teachability, humility and drive.
and..if you get a chance, in nearly two short years see what this kid's
doing with acrylics now! There are also some pics on this thread below of
his personal studio in Chicago, of him outside the doors of the academy, his
Harey Caray mural and so forth. You'll find it of interest....
> He looked at my paintings so far and told me "I didn't have =
You know....Sky...that is the dumbest thing I've heard.
I once spent some time with well known (now deceased) wildlife artist Lee
LeBlanc and asked him how to develop a style. He had a well known look to
his work....and I was eager and a young painter sitting on his every word.
He looked at me, smiled...with a pipe in his mouth, and said, "Do 500
paintings and you'll have a style!"
Of course you didn't have a style! ...and that instructor didn't have a
Even today...I encounter many many artists that speak of trying to develop a
style. That is like trying to develop fingerprints!
It will be others looking at your work after many years of you
developing...that they will see an undeniable look, a personality to your
work. THAT is style...and Mr. LeBlanc was absolutely right. Do ba-zillions
of paintings, and you'll have a style.
I'm sorry you had to go thru that experience, and wish I had been there to
give that professor the mouthful he had coming to hear!