Thursday, May 30, 2013

Vosler Young Artists' Studio

What is the best age for young students to start a classical art education? And what should they be taught?

The Vosler Young Artists' Studio in Tampa, Florida provides an opportunity for students eighteen years and under to learn traditional skills. The program presents students with casts of geometric solids and human features, which the students accurately draw in charcoal. Loosely following the Charles Bargue and Jean-Léon Gérôme training method, they graduate to the clothed model and live animals or birds.


I met founder Kerry Vosler at the Portrait Society convention. Here are some quotes from the website:
"Michelangelo at age 13 apprenticed to Domenico Ghirlandaio. Mary Cassatt began studying painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia at the early age of 15. Cecelia Beaux started lessons with a relative, Catherine Ann Drinker at age 16."


"Great Artists, musicians, writers and athletes do not acquire their skills overnight. It takes years of study to gain insights and to understand the technical mastery of the craft for all of these endeavors. Talent is nice to have but not necessary to become an artist. Dedication and long term commitment is really what determines how successful the artist will become."

"Working on a series of exercises with increasing levels of difficulty and variety, artists progress at their own pace and do not move ahead to the next exercise until a reasonable level of technical mastery is demonstrated. Artists are critiqued individually by the instructor who utilizes objective criteria to judge their progress."

Kerry Vosler tells me that they are "working toward getting our sculpey clay and making some cool dinosaurs or monsters. Our students are really excited about this and this will help break up the typical drawing sessions."

FURTHER READING
Previously on GurneyJourney: 
Comics in the classroom (Andy Wales, primary school teacher)

23 comments:

Steve said...

As someone who taught elementary school for thirty years, I can attest to the hunger some kids have to be given rigorous drawing instruction -- practice exercises they associate with the work "real" artists do. It's wonderful a place such as Vosler Young Artists' Studio exists. I have two idealistic hopes for the studio: First, that there be a way to provide scholarships for talented, highly motivated kids who cannot afford the monthly fees. Second, I would hope every student at the studio is pursuing their own dreams, rather than the dreams of their parents.

In a belated aside regarding hinges, these seem promising:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002I01QVW/ref=ox_sc_sfl_image_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A2YS58QFHT37VD

Arahmynta said...

I find it a little depressing that today anyone even has to qualify that "the instructor... utilizes objective criteria to judge their progress."

James Gurney said...

Steve, those are really helpful insights, coming from plenty of experience. Another primary art instructor, Andy Wales, who I linked to at the end of the post, taught K-6 students how to do comics, and even wrote a dissertation about comics in the classroom. He's now teaching middle school kids how to draw what they observe. I remember when I was 13 I wanted to learn all the methods I could find for both observational and imaginative methods.

Thanks for the link for those pochade hinges.

Arahmynta, I know what you mean. No one has to apologize for teaching other subjects objectively. There are many ways to teach art, I suppose, but it's great that this training exists for kids who want it.

Keith Parker said...

To answer the broad question above I say the younger the better. My fad made his first drawing when he was three because my grandmother asked him to draw her a bunny (only to keep him busy for a few minutes). He enjoyed it so much he kept drawing. He was frustrated though because he drew a pond that was a round blob. He didnt know what perspective was, but he knew his pond didnt look right. So he kept drawing; working to get better. Three years later when he started first grade he had already drawn an anitomically horse from their ranch! Upon seeing it, his teacher told him he had a gift from God. He was angry at the time not wanting to share the glory for his diligence with anyone. Anyway, I think it's not for everyone, but not because of magic in our hands or eyes, but because he have a mindset that won't let us quit until we get it right. I'm glad to hear these kids are getting a chance to be treated seriously. Kinda like Will studying to be a skybax rider. :)

Ken said...

I think talent is necessary to become a great artist. Anyone with an IQ below 90 would struggle to make it as an artist, even if they practiced on a daily basis.

Aljoša V said...

I have a question that is the opposite of the one at the beginning of the blog post: What is the maximum age for someone who wants to get into illustration art/business? I'm 31 and I began to study art only 3 years ago because I've been interested in art in childhood, but unfortunately my school teachers discouraged me from it... [A classical example of how much damage a bad teacher can to do a kid.] Anyway, I really enjoy art and I work hard every day at learning it (currently doing the Famous Artist's Course). I'm a little worried that I might be too late to "catch that train". Anyone care to comment, or offer some advice?

Kerry Vosler said...

It is never too late to learn or to become a professional artist. Many artists today are doing art as a second career.

James Gurney said...

I agree with Kerry. Never too young and never too old. Whatever age, what matters is a strong desire, a willingness to really concentrate, to take chances, and to keep pushing past failures. On the elder side, Edwin Austin Abbey didn't start oil painting really until his 40s. And Mad magazine cover artist Norman Mingo had most of his run of covers in his 70s:

http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2010/12/elder-mad-man.html

Chris James said...

Portfolio quality matters more than age. Why wouldn't it? The product is what they're buying, not the seller/creator.

Kerry Vosler said...

At age 13 I was home in Puyallup, Washington drawing all the time and even drawing Fred Flinstone directly from the cartoon on the TV. My mother was my first art teacher and she would always take the time to show me something. She had studied to be a fashion illustrator before I was born. She and I have plein air painted together often and we both enjoy drawing and painting.

Kerry Vosler said...

To Steve: We do have scholarships for those in need and we are always looking for sponsors to assist financially so children without means can attend.

Keith Parker said...

I'm also 31, Aljosa. And I do agree that you are definitely nowhere near too old to pursue art. You will get out of it what you are willing to invest in it. The good thing about being younger is if you struggle with something no one will think anything of it, but as an adult you will have to fight the urge to get depressed when you look at better drawings by people who have been painting and drawing for decades.

Johannes Voss aka algenphleger...did I spell that right? Is a young German artist that is very "talented." he started "taking art serious" when he was about 18. I've seen thousands of his drawings. All done between the ages of 18 and 20. In two years he went from severely amuture to producing amazing work that I seriously envy. So how did he do that? He drew thousands of bad and mediocre drawings. Not dozens. Not hundreds. Thousands.

My best advice is draw all the time. Every chance you get. If you throw yourself into your passion you will make some amazing progress. Best of luck!

Steve said...

To Kerry: Thanks for the response re: scholarships. I'm contacting you through your website to learn more about them.

Kerry Vosler said...

Steve also asked if this was the parents or the children's idea. The first class is always free so the children can experience our studio and decide for themselves if this is a good fit for them.

Keith Parker said...

That is brilliant! It's a shame there aren't schools like this all over the country. Sherry, this is very inspiring. James, thank you for sharing.

Matthew McNeil said...

This really brings a lot of Joy to me. Im glad there is something going on out there to help introduce and nurture the artistic curiosity in the youths. I wasn't allowed to draw growing up and didn't get into art until i was 23. Art was met with Negativity and being a waste of time. so it truly is awesome to see kids/teens getting encouraged and supported. I'm envious in a way, but happy.

Simone said...

As a resident of the Tampa Bay area I have heard Kerry Vosler's name mentioned in connection with the Portrait Society. Always good things. Didn't know about the youth training. That's great. I have worked some with young teens and had limited success. Most didn't have the determination to strive for accuracy in drawing. Maybe I wasn't the right person to draw it out of them......no pun intended.

As for being a late bloomer. It's never too late to start doing something that you can be passionate about. Late starters may never reach the same level of mastery as early starters but the journey is worthwhile. Growth is still proportional to time and effort. Bottom line is if drawing or painting is something that causes time to pass virtually unnoticed, you should be doing a lot of it.

LaurentiusBannink said...

Hey you guys, good job at teaching children the basic skills. Right now I am studdying the young Picasso (and a lot of old 19th century drawing manuals) and making research about him for my school.

I would like to open my own department and teach younger and older people eager to learn the basics.I think the public opinion is changing and people want to learn this again.

In the school curriculum it would be very usefull to draw, not only as an artform but in a mathematical way to. Drawing (as a way of making signs) I think is the very basic of communication!

LaurentiusBannink said...

Hey you guys, good job at teaching children the basic skills. Right now I am studdying the young Picasso (and a lot of old 19th century drawing manuals) and making research about him for my school.

I would like to open my own department and teach younger and older people eager to learn the basics.I think the public opinion is changing and people want to learn this again.

In the school curriculum it would be very usefull to draw, not only as an artform but in a mathematical way to. Drawing (as a way of making signs) I think is the very basic of communication!

LaurentiusBannink said...

Hey you guys, good job at teaching children the basic skills. Right now I am studdying the young Picasso (and a lot of old 19th century drawing manuals) and making research about him for my school.

I would like to open my own department and teach younger and older people eager to learn the basics.I think the public opinion is changing and people want to learn this again.

In the school curriculum it would be very usefull to draw, not only as an artform but in a mathematical way to. Drawing (as a way of making signs) I think is the very basic of communication!

LaurentiusBannink said...

Hey you guys, good job at teaching children the basic skills. Right now I am studdying the young Picasso (and a lot of old 19th century drawing manuals) and making research about him for my school.

I would like to open my own department and teach younger and older people eager to learn the basics.I think the public opinion is changing and people want to learn this again.

In the school curriculum it would be very usefull to draw, not only as an artform but in a mathematical way to. Drawing (as a way of making signs) I think is the very basic of communication!

LaurentiusBannink said...

Hey you guys, good job at teaching children the basic skills. Right now I am studdying the young Picasso (and a lot of old 19th century drawing manuals) and making research about him for my school.

I would like to open my own department and teach younger and older people eager to learn the basics.I think the public opinion is changing and people want to learn this again.

In the school curriculum it would be very usefull to draw, not only as an artform but in a mathematical way to. Drawing (as a way of making signs) I think is the very basic of communication!

Kerry Vosler said...

This year we are doing two summer workshops for teens in June 2014. It continues to amaze me at how quickly the young artists learn. The younger a student is the faster they make neural pathways. The other reason for getting a young budding artist into classical art lessons early is that they have no fear. They fearlessly attach each new experience. Fear can and does get in the way of learning. Here is a nice article on how neural pathways are created. http://www.whatisneuroplasticity.com/pathways.php