A couple of months ago, I applied to the Gage Academy of Art‘s Atelier program – a two-to-three-year, full-time, intensive course with a focus on learning traditional techniques in drawing and painting. The Academy is located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood in a beautiful old building that used to house the Cornish College of the Arts. Before applying, I met with master artist Mark Kang-O’Higgins, the instructor of the atelier, and was impressed by his work and his philosophy. Mark teaches traditional methods but also encourages students to develop their own voice and style through independent projects. His atelier is definitely the more contemporary of the two atelier programs offered by the Academy.
I was thrilled to receive an email in late June informing me that I had been accepted to the program. Classes begin in mid-September and I can’t wait!
My goal for this program is to get a thorough grounding in the basics of drawing and painting that I can use to enhance my ability to execute my inner visions on paper and canvas. I’m also looking forward to making connections with other artists, exhibiting my work, and exploring career opportunities in the Seattle art world.
One option I’m considering is attending the atelier for a year to develop a good portfolio and then using the work and the connections I’ve made to apply to an MFA program. With an MFA I would be qualified to teach at the college or university level, either as an adjunct faculty member or a professor, a possibility that very much interests me.
On being accepted to the program I decided to try my hand at painting in oils for the first time, as oils are the preferred medium at the Academy. My first attempt, entitled “Monsters,” is shown here:
This painting was inspired by a couple of lines in the chorus of an Eminem song titled “The Monster.” The song is one of my son’s favorites.
I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed
Get along with the voices inside of my head
The painting is part of the ‘autobiographical art’ series I’ve profiled in recent posts. I’m still getting used to working with oils. Because the paint oxidizes rather than dries, it’s a very different process than working with acrylics, where the paint dries within minutes of hitting the canvas and can be painted over with impunity. Working with oil-based paint and solvents is messier than working with water-based paints – although thanks to modern solvents such as turpenoid one can now avoid the horrible turpentine fumes. Because of the very slow ‘drying’ time with oils, it’s easy to overwork a section and muddy the colors. However, there is a certain vibrancy and textural quality to the paint that gives the medium a charm and vitality of its own quite different to the plastic qualities and appearance of acrylic paint. I look forward to continuing my exploration of this new-for-me medium.