I read an instagram post recently of someone who not-so-subtly declared an end in sight for the modern and abstract expressionist art movements that have dominated our society for the past 100 years and a return to more classical styles. Another renaissance, if you will. I'm not sure if we are in the dark ages of art, but I will say that I am thrilled to discover a growing interest in realist art. Before I began studying classical techniques at the Texas Academy of Figurative Art, I felt a bit lost. Out of place. My education was a strange mix of conceptual installation art (from a teacher I loved and respected, I have to admit) and a surface-level introduction to drawing techniques. My favorite class was figure drawing, where I had a taste of what would later come at the atelier. It wasn't enough, but I was studying design and wasn't meant to further pursue those classes. And, from what I hear, it wouldn't have been enough, period. We have slowly un-learned hundreds of years of classical techniques and they simply aren't a part of the art curriculum anymore. This baffles me, and the term "de-skilling" absolutely horrifies me. (More about that can be found in this article). I can't understand why anyone would want to "dumb down" their abilities, or--more likely--not learn any skills in the first place.
As someone drawn to a slower-paced approach to art, one that is more about portraying beauty, I've struggled to find my place as an artist. My degree is in design, which felt "safe," and though I didn't fail as a conceptual artist in college, it also wasn't my calling. I listened to students ramble pretentiously through a critique, speaking of grand ideas but with nothing compelling to show for it. This annoyed me.
But who was painting realistically anymore? Is that even a thing? Am I irrelevant? I went along my merry way as a designer and tried to find other outlets to feed my creative needs. Here and there I found some groups or classes where I could practice figure drawing, but it wasn't until last year that I was able to find an atelier, before I even knew what that was, and an entire community of people who thought like me, and drew like me, and painted like me. Whose ultimate goal is to master the techniques FIRST and foremost, and worry about what we have to say later. I hate this word--BLESSED--but I do feel it...for finding this thing that is feeding my soul, and discovering that others around the world are feeling it too.