from Someday Is Now:  The Art of Corita Kent

from Someday Is Now: The Art of Corita Kent

I was reading about Corita Kent, an artist/printmaker/teacher who was also a Catholic nun for most of her adult life, when I came across this poster she made for her classroom in L.A.  I thought it was a wonderful follow up to my last post about the education of artists.  I would have loved to have had Sister Corita as a teacher, wouldn’t you?

The Education of an Artist

January 10, 2014

Seattle Art Museum, student at work

Seattle Art Museum, student at work

Here is advice from artist Ben Shahn to anyone who wants to be an artist:

“Attend a university if you possibly can.  There is no content of knowledge that is not pertinent to the work you will want to do.  But before you attend a university work at something for a while.  Do anything.  Get a job in a potato field; or work as a grease-monkey in an auto repair shop.  But if you do work in a field do not fail to observe the look and the feel of earth and of all things that you handle — yes, even potatoes!  Or, in the auto shop, the smell of oil and grease and burning rubber.  Paint of course, but if you have to lay aside painting for a time, continue to draw.  Listen well to all conversations and be instructed by them and take all seriousness seriously.  Never look down upon anything or anyone as not worthy of notice.  In college or out of college, read.  And form opinions!  Read Sophocles and Euripides and Dante and Proust.  Read everything that you can find about art except the reviews.  Read the Bible; read Hume; read Pogo.  Read all kinds of poetry and know many poets and many artists.  Go to an art school, or two, or three, or take art courses at night if necessary.  And paint and paint and draw and draw.  Know all that you can, both curricular and noncurricular — mathematics and physics and economics, logic, and particularly history.  Know at least two languages besides your own, but anyway, know French.  Look at pictures and more pictures.  Look at every kind of visual symbol, every kind of emblem; do not spurn signboards or furniture drawings or this style of art or that style of art.  Do not be afraid to like paintings honestly or to dislike them honestly, but if you do dislike them retain an open  mind.  Do not dismiss any school of art, not the pre-Raphaelites nor the Hudson River School nor the German Genre painters.  Talk and talk and sit at cafes, and listen to everything, to Brahms, to Brubeck, to the Italian hour on the radio.  Listen to preachers in small town churches and in big city churches.  Listen to politicians in New England town meetings and to rabble-rousers in Alabama.  Even draw them.  And remember that you are trying to learn to think what you want to think, that you are trying to co-ordinate mind and hand and eye.  Go to all sorts of museums and galleries and to the studios of artists.  Go to Paris and Madrid and Rome and Ravenna and Padua.  Stand alone in Sainte Chapelle, in the Sistine Chapel, in the Church of the Carmine in Florence.  Draw and draw and paint and learn to work in many media; try lithography and aquatint and silk-screen.  Know all that you can about art, and by all means have opinions.  Never be afraid to become embroiled in art or life or politics; never be afraid to learn to draw or paint better than you already do; and never be afraid to undertake any kind of art at all, however exalted or however common, but do it with distinction.”
— Ben Shahn, from The Shape of Content


Practice Any Art

November 9, 2013

Ink and watercolor sketch of trees at dawn, Green Lake

Ink and watercolor sketch of trees at dawn, Green Lake

“Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or how badly, not to get money or fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”
— Kurt Vonnegut

It’s just getting light when I run around Green Lake on these November mornings. There is one point along the path where the shadows of the trees reach close like long fingers in the indistinct dawn. Everything is golden or dark, no grays.