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Old 04-28-2012, 06:15 AM
mad4color mad4color is offline
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Art College Frustration and Questions

I am enrolled in Watercolor at a community college, and felt burned during our student show this week. Other students did too. I donít think we are just sore losers. They say itís full of nepotism and favoritism.

Background: I alreay have an AA from this community college from years ago, a BA in English/ history, and attended law school for a year.. I donít have that much energy or steam invested in this struggle, but am thinking of complaining about a few things. I took six hours of ceramics while working on my bachelorís. After law school about 12 years ago, I deferred a lot of my loans with art classes. Now I am just on a low income repayment plan, so itís not necessary to take six hours per semester.

I have over 30 hours of art, mostly in this community college system. I pay approx $140 for three hours in the spring and fall semesters. I get something to do, and get to use the school facilities, equipment, and studio space. I also get companionship. I have made 2 really good friends at this school.!

The universities s are further and more expensive. Anyway, I donít want to work that hard for a BFA or a MFA. So itís really on my terms.

This school has a small faculty, and the art division head is a selling artist and married to a district bigwig. My costudents say she chooses the winners, and that she can be a witch. I donít know about that. However, the piece that won Best of Show had two composited downloaded images, printed on canvas, and a few strokes of paint. Duh? Anyone can print stuff on computer! Banal and dumb!

We might need to limit the digital stuff from art school shows! Iíd like to think we are there to learn to do stuff with our own two hands! I have had two art teachers in the district who didnít even known what casein/milk paint is! What did they learn in art history?

Iíve already had a round with the dean, who is just temporary dean. He didnít want more chairs in the gallery for those of us who canít stand law. I have already forced that issue with the Americans with Disabilities Act. I have worked or state and federal agencies, and his conduct astonishes me. But Iím not sure I want to complain to him; heís not worth the energy. I've fought many more effective bureaucrats who could fight a good, decent fight! None of the students like him; hope theyíll choose someone else permanently!

What really goes on in graduate art classes? Maybe I shouldnít be in with the early students who are learning perspective, shading, etc. I enjoy being with the novices, though! I never wanted graduate school other than law school, and my health too lousy for that. I could get a BFA but that costs more! Oh sure, I could earn a 2nd degree easily. Iím an achiever. I learned a long-time ago that the universities exist for themselves, to employ teachers, etc.

I have been struggling with a skin disease for almost a decade, and then I was busy with dying family for four years. After my father passed away last year, I was finally up to returning to school. I really need to sell. Another student, also already degreed, encourages me to try etsy.

Private classes around here are more expensive for the class time than the district is! I am fundamentally self-trained, though educated, because 20 years ago, when I started seriously painting, my allergies to art stuff was pretty bad! I taught myself to paint by dribbling watercolor onto cheap copy paper. I can really mix paints and let the colors and textures run!

I have already been to a better school in the district, that has more classes, but itís further and 2 buses away. This one is the most convenient!

Do I advise art school? Yes, even in the teacher is lousy, you will still learn from the other students! I have 2 wonderful new art friends for life from here, and they are going with me to Daddy's grave soon!

When one studies art history and appreciation, one studies art as a means for protest, just like all the other protest stuff I studied in literature and history. The universities do not want you protesting against them!

I should be selling and attending local workshops and events probably!
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:24 AM
mad4color mad4color is offline
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Re: Art College Frustration and Questions

Oh come on, somebody please comment. In retrospect, I have had very little instruction. I work spontaneously and freely, and most instructors just come around and visit a little with each student.

I had the most instruction in oil, cause I am not a natural oil painter.

But what do instructors DO in your experiences?
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:18 AM
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Aderynglas Aderynglas is offline
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Re: Art College Frustration and Questions

In my experience, it very much depends on the student and whether the Lecturer feels that the student is receptive to what they have to say. It also depends on whether you are on the right course, with the right classes for your style of art.

You say you're an achiever and quickly sussed out what was needed to gain your degrees, but art is different. You can do an art course and get a degree if that's what you want, but it won't make you a better artist necessarily.

Perhaps you need to sit down and ask yourself what it is you are trying to achieve on these courses and whether these courses are the way to do that.

What are your aims as an artist?

Is what you are producing up to the standard needed to reach your goals?

Are you able to look at your work and see where it could be improved? Or do you need the critiques that others can give?

Have you posted your work on Wetcanvas to see what others think of it?
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Old 05-04-2012, 02:59 AM
mad4color mad4color is offline
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Re: Art College Frustration and Questions

Hey, thanks for some kind of answer. My classmates and I have just had some very meaningful exchanges with each other, but we are not getting that much from the teacher. And I am remembering one of my community college teachers. I had her when I was very seriously starting to paint, after I left law school.

I started covering paintings that I didn't like with white gesso or some kind of acrylic then painting over them. I loved seeing the designs underneath and still do that, with casein or acrylic. That teacher would come over while I was "destroying" an old painting, watch, and comment on my strokes! She was really good. I heard her making suggestions to other people. Luckily, she finally graduated from part-time faculty to permanent full-time, a hard thing to get in the entitled community college world.

I lost three immediate family members, my parents and a brother, in the past four years. . I have very little family left, and no partner or kids. Part of the problem is I don't know much what to do with myself other than go to college or church. I don't have a lot of physical energy and stamina. Art class twice a week and a regular church on Sunday has been a big improvement for me.

I don't think I am going to school this summer. I might take art history online, or might not, since I can also do it free. I have been posting some of my stuff on my facebook page and getting comments from friends, no sales yet.

One of my classmates actually makes and sells christening dresses quite profitable online and has just sold her first painting in the show. She is encouraging me to sell on etsy, with twenty cents listings, and may even commission me for an abstract.

Good friends are hard to come by!

Art is not my only interest. I might take a course in how to rehab computers.My father was an electrician and handyman, and I feel a similarity to him, but I am a weak woman and not physically strong like him. I can pull and push boards in and out of a computer. My instructor suggested digital art, but I told him I felt more of a need to master the beast, like learn to install computer operating systems first. I could do that online free too if I motivated myself.

However, I hear my classmates complaining. I prefer the word "early" student for them to "young," since many are older. Today are instructor came around with written comments for the earlier students, and none for the other college degreed woman and me. We do work compulsively, but we are also entitled to feedback. I think my classmates may have some valid complaints, and keep arguing with myself about making an official complaint.

One friend, an early student who I think is a natural teacher, states he does not think our instructor ever really learned to draw and paint. He keeps pushing us for digital, and I am not paying to be in digital. A lot in the college push for digital. I am fairly good digitally and seem to have a knack for that, but I am there to paint in the studio and interact with the other students.

i have been discussing with my 2 close friends in there stuff like sketching in our major museum one night a week over the summer, which is sounding good. There are other relatively low cost art workshops around here, like one art mission to the homeless,which I am not sure I want to do right now. I was a social worker for many years.

Now stuff is coming to my mind, like some churches that have creative nights.
Even going to some Michael's course like scrapbooking for ten dollars once a month! I go in those places, like church stuff, around these crafters, and I am doing fine art stuff around them! Just a comment!

There are several community colleges to choose from, and I can hop around, even if I have to pay more for repeating a course, it would only be about $300 per semester for one course, much cheaper than the privates.

For the rest of you who took classes, what actually happened in your classes? What did the instructor do?

i have always wanted to teach art to adults, in a community-like setting, because I consider working-age adults of all income levels art deprived. Children and old people get to draw, but not the in-betweeners!

Oh, Yale professor Diana Kleiner has a great online course on Roman Architecture free. Many worlds to explore free.
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Old 05-04-2012, 03:08 AM
mad4color mad4color is offline
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Re: Art College Frustration and Questions

The input from others in class, of course, is a big help. I am a natural watercolorist, but I accidentally got in oil about ten years ago. Finally learned to paint in oil.

I had a small painting at home, an abstract ,that I was thinking of painting over. It had many fine qualities, though. I took it in, and after about 5 opinions, I finally got a better grip on how to salvage/improve it.

Yes, art school can be valuable, even if you have a lousy teacher!
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Old 05-04-2012, 03:33 PM
mad4color mad4color is offline
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Re: Art College Frustration and Questions

I didn't answer all of it. I've been on wetcanvas.com for years, but only recently posted an actual painting. Part of the problem was I had to get the right scanner, learn how to use a digital camera, etc. Also, like I said, busy with dying family and my own problems.

But that is an option and quite a community!

Am getting ready to do some protest at school, though! Edvard Munch's "The Scream" that just sold for a sum higher than I can count was not digital art!

The digital world had brought all of us access to more stuff, but handmade art is still the "realest" stuff for me!
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Old 05-04-2012, 11:23 PM
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Re: Art College Frustration and Questions

For 140.00 ( X 3 credit hours) ? that seems like a bargain - just for the place to do work and engage. Perhaps, to some extent you get what you pay for. Small schools I have studied at range from about 8k a year ( minus housing and living expenses) to 14k /year ( also minus) to ARt University which can move on up to 20-35k /year.

I tried to look up your work to see what you do but there is nothing I can find - no threads since 2005 (with your works in them)! You might also use this place - WC - to post your work, develop and engage. Just an idea to ponder.

I'm sorry the ( seems like) small CC experience has not been wonderful. Maybe you can get them to hire you to run the place!

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Old 05-05-2012, 07:15 AM
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Re: Art College Frustration and Questions

You may be right that the instructor does not know how to draw (or is not an expert in it). In America, Art education is grossly underdeveloped, and the talent and skill of the instructors is limited. Community College IS in fact there more to get work for the graduates than to sell watercolors at local galleries for people who just want to have fun or do something. Lower level BA or BFA type courses are a bit stricter as far as outcome for the students.

I went to BFA classes for about 3 years before quitting because I could not decide on a focus. The drawing classes were intense, however there was no technical instruction in things like gross anatomy for arts (Ecorshe). The relationship of the instructor was that of the Atlier. In other words facilitating, and critiquing, answering technical questions, teaching standard techniques like site-size, and color mixing, and judgement as to whether you are "pushing" the medium enough in a relative sense.

In college, the highest degree one can get in studio arts is MFA. If Art history, or in some other instances, you can get a Ph.d. One reason, is that no one can actually judge something as relative as art, and so a university cannot say whether someone should be granted the highest degree or not.

Even today there is a huge lack of advanced art instructors who choose to focus on realism, or figurative work. The great majority of art instructors are theorists and abstract artists.

But-- I have never met an instructor of art who was so closed-minded that he or she could not accept the art of someone who was actually learning from the lessons they were being taught. I have, however; known instructors who did not feel competent to judge the merit of work they did not understand. So I can see a computer graphics teacher who has mainly a computer graphics background choosing a computer graphics student as a "pet." It is sad but true that some people refuse go beyond their knowledge specialties.

If this community college has such a bad reputation, I certainly would seek another route to learning.

I have never pursued any community college art classes, because I find community college art instructors inferior to those of a classical university. When pursuing a Bachelors, generally a student has been practicing art (at least though high school if "early") and they already know a reasonable amount of art. No one with any sense would decide to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a degree if they did not think much about it in advance. I do think of community college as a place where a person can go if they decided off the top of their head to take up watercolor one day and had $150.00 to spare. Community college is going to just teach basics no matter how you slice it. But then, why not buy some supplies and a 15 dollar book? You will learn as much as you will in a class.

At the local college (I live less than 2 miles away from a good university) there are life-drawing sessions open to anyone. The cost is about 5 dollars per session. The money is put together to pay a nude model. You will find these classes all over the world, usually in an academic environment.

Obviously, you can also set up still lifes in your home studio or even draw or paint pets, or go outside and draw what you see out there.
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Last edited by Use Her Name : 05-05-2012 at 07:21 AM.
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Old 05-05-2012, 07:29 PM
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Re: Art College Frustration and Questions

I've had teachers at the community college level that were just as good as teachers in the expensive art schools. I recall my first Community College Figure Drawing teacher was absolutely great. He drew really well and I still remember some of the principles he taught me about figure drawing. I also attended classes at the local Big Name art school and had some wonderful, wonderful teachers there too. But on a whole I don't think most of them were all that much better than my first figure drawing teacher at the local CC. Same with a watercolor class I took at the local CCóI learned a lot from that class! And the ceramics department at this same CC was so good. Students were often sent to galleries while still students, because the department head of the ceramics dept. had such a good reputation that galleries sought him out for recommendations. I know of at least one student who got featured on the COVER of Ceramics Monthly, there were group shows in galleries that comprised of just students from this community college, and so forth and so on. And then there are experiences I've heard of where someone gets a degree in art at a prestigious school and they learn nothingóNOTHINGóand come out with negligible skills.

So it's just the luck of the draw. All you should go by is, what are you getting out of the classes? If you don't think the teachers' abilities are what you want, or they are not focusing on what you are looking for, then look elsewhere. It could be that some continuing education classes at another college (or art school, if there is one in your area) would be the thing. It all depends. Quality can be hit or miss. There's no guarantee that just because it's a more expensive class, at a more prestigious school, or even a more "famous" teacher, that it'll provide you with the education that you want.

Last edited by mariposa-art : 05-05-2012 at 07:32 PM.
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Old 05-05-2012, 08:13 PM
mad4color mad4color is offline
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Re: Art College Frustration and Questions

Various stuff.Will keep uploading.
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Old 05-05-2012, 08:15 PM
mad4color mad4color is offline
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Re: Art College Frustration and Questions

That landscape is actually from about 22 years ago, and I had very little background. It looks better scanned; the colors are better. Pale and wimpy in real life, but the brushwork was apparently sound.
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Old 05-05-2012, 08:18 PM
mad4color mad4color is offline
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Re: Art College Frustration and Questions

Oh, the landscape on top is just made up from my head from acrylic recently, , scanned with digital frame.
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:58 PM
mad4color mad4color is offline
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Re: Art College Frustration and Questions

The warmer colors is just some old rather crude made up wax crayon painting. i inverted it to cooler colors, which I like better I do dabble in digital manipulation some, and find it gives me different perspectives
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Old 05-05-2012, 11:11 PM
mad4color mad4color is offline
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Re: Art College Frustration and Questions

I was posting earlier while talking on the phone. Took a while for this thread to take off, but it's a positive step for me. Now I feel really connected and am looking through what I have on my computer.

Top painting here just some floral dribble from my sketchbook. I just play a lot. yes, I also play on the computer a lot, because I inverted this one also and I like it better.

But I am still in studio class to work with my hands and interact with other real people in a messy studio!
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Old 05-05-2012, 11:20 PM
mad4color mad4color is offline
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Re: Art College Frustration and Questions

This one is a Softened Salvaged Flower. It went bad, like got some running paint or solvent on it. I know I had casein on the bottom layer. I have tried various ways to restore it digitally, and am still trying.


I paint in lots of styles, usually in watercolor, casein, acrylic, all watermedia except egg termpera. I also use colored pencils quite a bit. I don't like dry dusty media.

I paint in oil some.

I can paint realistically, am looking for scans of some of my more realistic stuff to upload. When I paint realistically, after a little while, I stop looking at the model, and start "working from within" my mind on the piece of paper. So it's usually a slightly altered realism.
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