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Art Instruction Schools Review – Can You Draw This?
Some years ago, when I was teaching engineering at Iowa State University, I took that little test that gets you into art schools. I passed the test, but never heard from the school, which was just up I-35 north of me.
A couple of years ago I took the test again. I passed again. Nothing happened. I looked online and called the school. The school sent me information but did not give me the opportunity to register for the course. Then one day I got a call from a gentleman who lives in Tooele, Utah. He said he was coming to see me and start drawing so he could see what I could do. A week later he showed up in his beat up old car, told me he covered most of the western states and asked if I could afford the class.
After getting those formalities out of the way, he looked at my drawings. I asked, “Do you think I can learn to draw.”
He looked at my landscape paintings on the walls of my house. Finally he said, “Yes, you can learn to draw.”
I wrote him a check for the three-year course, although he advised me to pay monthly, gave a few pointers on how to draw, and went off to interview a teenager above riding, which he suspected he would not be able to buy of course.
I have now completed the course except for the final exam, which I have not received yet. Here are my impressions:
1. The cost is very reasonable for what you get, but it cost almost $3,000.00. However, you can pay monthly if that makes a difference.
2. Each lesson comes in a separate book. You get one book at a time except for the first time, when you get the first two lessons. I found that sometimes I had to wait a little longer than I wanted to wait for a lesson to be returned. However, almost all lessons are returned within 30 days. There were longer delays because the artist was on maternity leave, including one of my mail guides. The staff had quite a baby boom this spring. I asked for the lessons to be sent in advance so that I could complete the course within 18 months instead of 3 years. I had my last lessons in a large crowd. This isn’t a good idea – it’s better to see your grades and critiques from the previous lesson before starting a new lesson – but I’m an old man with a pig’s aortic valve and time is precious to me.
3. Each lesson is very comprehensive. You will see examples from a wonderful artist, other students and instructors at the Art Education School. Each technique is clearly and expertly explained. Each lesson has exercises to complete. Finally, you complete your assignment and submit it for grading.
4. I was amazed that every lesson you completed by submitting a final drawing or drawings was not only graded, but also drawn by the teacher for the review. This is very important because you are not judged, but shown how things should be done. The teacher will draw your drawing and place an overlay over the drawing with helpful comments on the overlay to help you master the topic at hand. In all cases, my work looked like crap next to the directors.
5. I didn’t call to talk to the teacher until I was well into the course, even though I was instructed to do so in every lesson. It was a missed opportunity. When I called the place, I realized how much knowledge the instructors of Art Education Schools have. Busy director never let me down. I was always given as much time as I needed and then some. The instructors are talented artists and great teachers.
6. I met only one student during the course. He is an American Indian who lives not too far from me on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation. He is a very talented artist and I couldn’t understand why he took the course. He told me that one thing he had learned from the course (he’s behind me) was patience. I have to agree. Art takes time and you need to give your brain a break to do it right. School always says don’t rush your work. It’s hard for me. I bought an ink drawing from a young man. He wanted $20.00 and I offered him $10.00. He took it because he had a date that night. I think I had just come from a yard sale and was still at the barter. I have decided that I owe him $10.00 because I like drawing very much. I’ll deliver it to him next time I pass that way.
7. My drawing is not up to par with the instructors, but I have been able to maintain a “B” average throughout the course. For this, I received a special certificate for each part of the lesson, stating that I had done more work than average. I only got a couple of “C” and “A” grades.
8. The most interesting lessons for me were the use of colors. Now I just combine the three main colors of my landscape, I rarely look for a specific color in the tube. Learning how to use ink washes and colors was interesting to me. However, the focus of the course was on drawing. If you can draw, you will be a much better painter, not only because of the accuracy of the drawings, but also seeing tones, light and shadows and textures.
9. I learned as I went along that I had not mastered the previous lessons as well as I should have. I kept going back to see what I had done versus what the instructor had done versus what the lessons told me to do. As always, I was too busy. I am goal oriented. I pick up the lesson book and say, “I’ve got to get this baby in there.” That’s the wrong approach. Take three years.
10. Some of the many skills taught in the course include composition, design, lettering, etc. The company was founded in 1914 to train artists for the United States Mint. When I was asked to design a stamp and I received the instructors’ version of my stamp, I saw that the history of the school is still clear. I was proud of my stamp and my wife loved it, as did artist-mini (who is very polite). But the directors stamp on my design was awesome.
The school has about 5,000 students, so I’ve been told. They are selective about who they enroll as students, the primary factor being the ability to pay for the course, but if you don’t have the ability to learn how to draw an old car with a gentleman’s mind, you are not accepted.
Did I get what I wanted from the course? I wanted to improve my scenery. However, I have only made a few landscapes since enrolling in the course. But I know my landscapes are much better after the course. No other courses are available. If they offered a special course in landscape painting, I would take it.
There are famous graduates of the school. Charles Schultz of Snoopy fame was a graduate and also a teacher at the school. Why yes, there was a lesson on comics and I just loved it. You might see one of my comics, but I can’t tell you how to find it on the internet. That would be self-glorification.
The basic art course at Taidepetuskoulu is amazing!
Fly to Old Glory!
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