This is Happening

You guys. At long last.


Today I bought some supplies and set up my new first year studio space. I had a couple of minutes alone in the room to think about how I got here. In December I left my agency to start freelancing and pursue art. I didn’t quite know where this would take me at the time.

I had heard of the Florence Academy of Art back in grad school when I sneaked out of my Art Direction curriculum to take one cherished painting course. The teacher spoke reverently about a place where students learned classical techniques in a near-monastic setting through apprentice-style learning.

Florence was awfully far away. But it wasn’t out of the question necessarily. I researched my options. Where could I find this magical place? What was it even called? Oh, atelier? Oh, classical atelier? And do they exist outside of Florence? Amsterdam, Paris, London, New York …warmer… Atlanta, LA, San Francisco… warmer … Seattle. Bingo.

I enrolled in a weekend illustration workshop at Gage Academy to see what the atmosphere was like. I met with students of both ateliers to get differing perspectives. I met with Juliette. I read her book Lessons on Classical Drawing. There was no question. I needed to look no further. The month was February, I needed to apply by the end of May with a portfolio that demonstrated an interest in classical art training.

This was laughable. As a designer and art director in advertising it had been years since I had produced finished analog work of any kind. And even then my illustrations and paintings were far from classical. I decided to create four master copies of drawings from scratch. I knew that as soon as I entered the atelier, these drawings would seem silly. I had no idea what I was doing. Still don’t. But I wanted to demonstrate an interest in the subjects and artistic traditions of the atelier and even demonstrate a willingness to fail if I had to.

These were my drawings. A Durer, a Raphael, a Rubens and a Bargue plate copy.





These were done in earnest to the best of my ability in the spring of 2014. I see the ways that they aren’t quite right, but I don’t know how to improve them. I hear you experience that feeling a lot in the atelier. Your eye accelerates so much faster than your skill that every new work is already a frustration. And that’s the wonderful burn of learning something new. This is a familiar feeling to me. It hasn’t been so long since grad school, or the first few years of my career for that matter, when I daily stared into the bottomless well of stuff I didn’t know.

For now these drawings represent a starting point. It’s great that I have them so that I can look back in few months time and at the end of the year to see my progress. They also represent the excitement and anticipation of starting the atelier. What a gift this all is.

This is happening.