Ask the Art Professor

Submit a question to my “Ask the Art Professor” column on the Huffington Post! Ask me about the creative process, navigating the professional art world, how to survive art school, and anything else you’re thinking about! I’ll write a comprehensive article in response to your question.

Ask the Art Professor: Should I Drop Out of Art School?

Tomorrow! Artist Lecture at the RISD Museum


Tomorrow night I am giving a lecture for the graduate students in the RISD Teaching + Learning in Art + Design program.  The lecture is at 6:30pm, and will take place in the Metcalf auditorium at the RISD Museum, and will be based on my book, “Learn, Create, & Teach: A Guide to Building a Creative Life.”Hope to see you there!

“The New Romantics” at Mark Miller Gallery in NYC

I will have two drawings, “Self-Portrait No. 6″ and “Self-Portrait No. 22″ in a group exhibition called “The New Romantics” at the Mark Miller Gallery in New York City. The show is curated by Diana Corvelle and Cara DeAngelis.

Opening reception: Saturday, April 5, 6:00-9:00pm
Exhibtion dates: April 5-May 9, 2014
Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 12:00-6:00pm

Mark Miller Gallery
92 Orchard Street
New York, NY, 10002


“Romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor in exact truth, but in a way of feeling.” – Charles Baudelaire, 1846

The Romantics of nearly two centuries ago created works of such considerable diversity that the only clear similarities lay in their emphasis on originality, imagination and deep emotional content. Ranging from expressive portraits to epic landscapes and vivid depictions of nature, these artists sought to push back against the reasoned order of the Enlightenment by producing emotionally charged works that spoke to their intensely individual perspectives.

Today a new Romanticism is emerging among artists who prize individual expression and authentic emotion over Postmodern sterility. These new Romantics are as varied in subject and style as their predecessors, and as equally unapologetic in their pursuit of emotional truth. Their work implicitly asserts a restoration of the Romantic ideal that artists are gifted and singular purveyors of original thought. Inspired and informed by the spirit of Romanticism, the artists of The New Romantics comprise an expansive visual trove of emotion and awe, each one both individually conspicuous and collectively harmonious.

Ask the Art Professor: To What Extent Do Grades Define an Academic Career in Visual Art?

Studio View

I was able to get into the studio two nights in a row, which makes for some much needed continuity in my work process. I find that if I’m away for more than two days in a row from the studio, it’s much tougher to pick up from where I left off.  These two drawings are very close to being finished, all they need is another pass with the lithographic crayon to firm up some details.  RISD is on spring break next week, so I’m hoping to make a final push with these drawings before my studio visit.


Studio View

I finished up the etching ink work on this second drawing, and began adding in passages with a lithographic crayon last night.  The lithographic crayon achieves much more detail than the etching ink, so I reserve it for areas where I need to solidify small shapes. I had forgotten how satisfying it is to render these small details with the lithographic crayon. The etching ink takes care of 90% of the work, so adding the details with lithographic crayon feels incredibly easy and smooth by comparison. The lithographic crayon is minimal work which quickly leads to finished results.


Studio View

I have to admit that it’s been getting harder to get myself to the studio at the end of the day. I know I should be looking forward to my time in the studio, but lately that hasn’t been the case. This semester, I’m teaching at RISD all day Mondays and Fridays, and in the morning on Saturdays. After teaching a 7.5 hour drawing class, I pretty much collapse at the end of the day and can’t do anything but vegetate afterwards.  Yesterday I got home at 6:15pm from teaching and made the decision to take the night off instead of going to the studio.  I felt intensely guilty, but I knew that I needed the rest in order to make it through to the next day. I know, it’s so unromantic to be discussing these kinds of logistical issues, but it’s a reality for so many artists. Every week is a new challenge in time management and balance in my schedule that I am constantly working on.

Standing Back

Studio View

Working on these 7′ x 4′ drawings certainly is presenting it’s own challenges. Lately I’ve been implementing strategies for how to maintain a cohesive sense of the entire composition at all stages of the drawing. When I’m up close working on the drawing, it’s pretty much impossible to see the entire composition all at once.  I’ve been forcing myself to step back very often so I can get a better sense of the relationships that are going on in the drawing. My studio is big enough that I can usually get at least 10 feet back from the drawing, which is enormously helpful. In fact, I’ve been stepping back so much that I’m starting to feel like I’m spending more time looking than drawing!

Another approach I’ve been taking is shooting a photograph of the drawing and then looking at the thumbnail image on my camera.  Seeing the drawing shrunk down to a 3″ tall image really condenses the composition and gets me looking at the overall balance of the piece, rather than getting fixated on the details.

Third Drawing

Studio View

I got going on the third drawing, the first of which has featured the emerging female figure. This figure is going to show up in several of the drawings, so I sketched the figure on a sheet of white paper first, and then traced it onto the Dura-Lar. This will ensure consistency throughout all of the drawings.

I’m itching to finish up these three drawings, not just because of my upcoming studio visit, but also because I want evidence that this idea is actually going to work out.

Studio View

Studio View