Thursday, June 29, 2006

Professional Affiliations

My friend, Jan, a plein aire painter, has recently emailed me that she is applying to grad school. Jan and I have often discussed the value of getting an MFA degree. When I had just completed my BFA I had a chance to go right into grad school. Maybe I was just tired of being in school or I didn’t want to take on any more debt. I was also pretty anxious to go out and set up my own studio and to get on with life. As I look back at my decision I have mixed feelings about it.

I have always believed in education just for the sake of learning. Over the years I have kept reading art history, staying current with a lot of art magazines and essays, and read about and practiced new materials and techniques. I had always reasoned that I didn’t need to enroll in grad school to do this. The only benefit, I saw at the time, was that if I wanted to teach, at least on a college level, that the MFA was mandatory. However, just having the MFA was no guarantee of getting a teaching position. I know too many people with MFA’s that work in art supply stores.

As much as I love art, teaching, and showing others how to do what I do it would not have been a good fit. I do not have the temperament to fit into the academic bureaucracy. My OCD makes me a very direct, intense, and concrete person who is way too outspoken. These same qualities (or lack of) would also make me a bad fit for enrolling in a grad program. I have told Jan that if I ever do teach it will be doing volunteer work for schools that don’t have art programs or having classes in my studio. Just recently I did a once-a-week class for a group of people with mental illnesses. They were a wonderful group and I enjoyed myself. I had to stop doing it because I needed the time to work on my house.

So, for now I prefer professional affiliations. I have just become a member of the Oil Pastel Society, in the professional category. In the future I also hope to apply to the Pastel Society of America when finances permit. Once we relocate to New Mexico, I will start to look around to get involved with regional affiliations. To teach privately this will do more for me than an MFA and give me contact with other artists who share similar interests and background.

These 2 pieces were among the paintings I sent to the jury committee of the Oil Pastel Society for entry. The nude is titled “Hands Behind Neck” and measures 27.5” X 19.5”, the landscape is titled “Row Of Pines” and measures 19.5” X 27.5”. Both pieces were done on Strathmore paper, sealed and primed with gesso with powdered pumice added and completed in 2005.


Blogger amber said...

It's difficult to focus on one's art. Even more so when you're helping others find themselves.I refused a few classes,I felt there was not enough time to paint as it was
I really like "Row of pines"again I think the colors are great!

6:13 PM  
Blogger The Epiphany Artist said...

I have a friend that spends all her time running around taking classes... as a result her paintings seem majorly different every time she takes a class and follow the teachers style.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Hi Amber, it is difficult to focus when helping others. I do limit it now but still have a need to give back to the community.

Hey TL, your friend sounds like she is in search of herself. Hopefully she will settle into one style.

8:04 AM  
Blogger amber said...

I guess I'm kind of against taking lessons
It is a strengh to learn about technique on your own
I notice that students will tend to pick the teachers style unfortunetly losing their own
Some teachers are very good at recognizing a students strong points and will be a source of guidance
We gotta love those teachers who put their egos aside

2:05 PM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Amber, you are right about the ego thing with teachers. Lessons are not bad but the teacher needs to be strong enough to point the student to their strengths and not creating a clone while the student needs to avoid being overly submissive to the teacher. I have always told students that I can teach them how to draw and paint (i.e. materials and techniques) but I cannot teach them how to be an artist (i.e. unique expression). OIt's a difficult balance.

6:59 PM  
Blogger amber said...

I've had teachers that I admire
now I'm having expositions with them and actually selling art
i never completed my sometimes i feel like I shouldn't be on their level
sounds like you're a good teacher

7:41 AM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Amber, what matters to me is the quality of the art not the degree. Many great artists did not have art degrees. I have also seen work by artists that have MFA degrees from big name schools and their artwork I think really sucks. Keep doing what you are doing. You seem to be on a good path. For myself I have found one of the best ways to learn more is by looking at the work of other artists.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Ed, am so very glad you stopped by.

Where do I begin? (Uhm, yeah, I suppose at the beginning.)


Just took a very cursory browse through your blog. Your work gave me The Sign -- I felt the little hairs stand up on the back of my neck, one of Robert Graves' indicators one was in the presence of work by someone who was getting it right. (Yes, he was a little crazy and a writer not painter, but he knew some things.)

And then I read a few, not just looked at the work...whew. Chock full of good questions and real-life wrasslin'.

Please do come back for more (I post new things just about daily) and let me know what you think. I'll do the same.

10:36 AM  
Blogger painterdog said...

For what its worth, I went back to school, later in life, to gat an MFA.
Complete waste of time and money.
I can't find a teaching job and you know what, from doing adjunct teaching I have to say teaching at the college level from my point of view sucks.

You don't get paid well, all the students want A's and if you give them a hard time about doing work they go and complain to the dean. Give you bad reviews, and you get let go.

Think real long and hard bfore you go and get an MFA.

I also had a hard time with the faculty at the school I went to, so I did not get any recommendations as a result this.

Its all about power, the program I went to seemed corrupt on so many levels. They(the faculty)played so many mind games with the students.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Lori, how can I not come back to your blog? I just had too good of a time. Thanks for your comments, I appreciate it.

Painterdog, a friend commented to me that adjunct teaching is educational's version of Manpower, Inc. I worked in a college Financial Aid Office and students blamed me for everything that they did wrong. I could live with that but college management agreed with the students and left me twistin' in the wind. No, an MFA is not in my future.

5:14 PM  
Blogger painterdog said...

The real issue to me was the lack of respect the professors had for me as a person. Let alone a painter.

After my first year(2 semesters)I really wanted to leave. I was talked out of by some friends, but also by then you have invested one year of your life and money, so one more year did not seem to be a bad idea.

Boy was I wrong.

The thing is there are good programs out there you have to do your research and find a program that fits, and someone you want to study with.

By the way Colombia is 35k per year...

8:42 PM  
Blogger jenncat said...

wow! i really like your nude and trees!i hope the best for you in your move to NM! what an exciting new chapter in your life :)

11:49 PM  
Blogger Globetrotter said...

I would certainly think that teaching the mentally ill to paint would be much more rewarding than a graduate's degree. I only began painting about a year ago at the ripe old age of...well,never mind.

I often bemoan the fact that I was not permitted the chance to go to art school, but better late than never, I suppose. I take art books out of the library and study them and I have taken a few classes from local artists. It's a means to an end and for me painting has been my mental salvation this past year.

Good luck with your competition. I love the colors in your landscape.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Hi Globetrotter, yeah teaching the mentally ill is more rewarding than an MFA and the people are more interesting. Don't bemoan the lack of an art degree. Ultimately what is important is the quality of the work.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Ed, dude, thanks for stopping, what's that fresh and interesting thing I can't quite see on that easel in your studio?

More, please, sir!

9:50 PM  

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