A New Tool For The Artist In You

pencil

Clearly I have some tech geek hidden somewhere in my soul. I just learned about a hot new app for the I-Pad, and I can’t sit still about it. Pencil is designed to communicate directly with the app, Paper, increasing opportunities for digital creativity in the real world.

Here, users get the chance to create endlessly without the mess of traditional materials. A stylus designed to look like an actual carpenter’s pencil; it uses Bluetooth technology to act like a pencil, paintbrush, or even charcoal. Without switching tools it provides the freedom to write, draw, sketch, color, and paint to your heart’s content. The added benefit of course, is that with digital drawing and painting you can experiment with new ideas and colors without affecting your original design. Want to try a different color? Experiment. Not the right medium for your creation? Switch it up. This new tool lets you erase it, smear it, smudge it, and try again.

Artists of every age can spend countless hours getting lost here. With no brushes to clean afterwards, no charcoal smears on your fingers and hands. And with the holidays around the corner, the designers and engineers at Fifty-Three might have just delivered the perfect gift for artist, student and teacher alike.

Go unleash your creativity, and let me know how you like it.

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Good News For Fine Arts Majors

Boston College

Boston College

OK, here’s the truth: moms and dads worry about their children studying fine arts in college. It’s true. Questions surrounding what type of jobs they’ll obtain after graduation intertwine with concerns about future incomes and lifestyles.

But good news is here.

The Wall Street Journal recently touted opportunities for fine artists in “A Fine-Arts Degree May Be a Better Choice Than You Think.” Specifically, Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce studied the satisfaction felt by fine arts graduates, noting that they’re not necessarily starving anymore, and are actually quite content with their chosen career paths.

The article goes on to mention the job opportunities available to fine artists, stating “almost 83% worked the majority of their time in some arts occupation, such as art teaching or in a nonprofit arts organization.” I believe the list of opportunities is even broader. The skills acquired while studying art – in time management, communication, collaboration, and problem solving – result in marketable combinations that large and small businesses clamor for, especially when combined with creativity.

Whether your journey after graduation is one of a working artist or along a different path, the skills you’ll gain majoring in fine arts will remain useful and valuable throughout your life.

Good news and a sigh of relief for mom and dad.

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Lessons Learned From A Master

The Postman, Vincent van Gogh, 1889

The Postman, Vincent van Gogh, 1889

I’ve loved Impressionist and post-Impressionist art ever since I can remember. The vibrant use of color and light, and the texture created by brush and paint alone have always enchanted me. So, of course I was thrilled to learn about a new Vincent van Gogh exhibit at The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. Titled Van Gogh Repetitions (October 12, 2013 – January 26, 2014) the show takes a new look at some of the artists more familiar work.

The cool part is that the exhibit lets us study van Gogh’s genius and technique while it focuses on a life lesson for any artist: that of repetition.  Yep, even van Gogh recreated and repainted the same composition over and over again.

By placing together paintings that are usually displayed separately the curators of this show have allowed us a sneak peek into the thought process of this famous master. Lectures and educational tours at the Phillips (and the Cleveland Museum of Art, March 2 – May 26, 2014) offer up the details into van Gogh’s technique, as he repeated his subject matter and reworked his ideas. For me, for now, it’s enough to know that the old adage “practice, practice, practice” can’t be repeated enough. (Sorry!) Here are examples of variances in one studied subject, and the perfection of getting it just right that we all aim for as designers and artists.

Portrait of Joseph Roulin, Vincent van Gogh, 1889

Portrait of Joseph Roulin, Vincent van Gogh, 1889

I find it timely that this exhibit coincides with National Portfolio Days across the country. When getting your portfolio reviewed and critiqued – and as you continue to build it – remember the passion and steps that van Gogh took.

I hope you get a chance to see this exhibit in person. If you do, please let me know. I’d love to hear what you learned from this master.

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Guest Post: Cultivate Your Creative Skills

The-three-levels-of-creativity - colored

By Laura Young

Many of my earliest memories are of art. My family was into museums, botanical gardens, and classical concerts, so I started making art very early. Through grade and high school I enjoyed drawing and painting, playing the piano, and acting/comedy improv, but I always saw the visual and performing arts as a separate practice from my academics. Art was just something I did for myself, because it was fun and pleasing, and I didn’t think much beyond that.

When I applied to college, I didn’t want to apply to art school because I liked many subjects. At the nudging of a family member, however, I applied to UCLA’s art department, and to my great surprise, I was admitted. I had turned in a portfolio but my academics did not meet the average profile of campus, so their decision confused me. More than anything else, I didn’t know what I was good at. I had plenty of things that I liked to do, but I wasn’t an expert at anything, so I wondered what UCLA had seen.

The summer before college, however, the luckiest thing happened to me: I got an internship at Disney, with a woman named Peggy van Pelt. Peggy was an executive consultant at the company, and her expertise focused on creative people: how to understand them in order to ensure their happiness, productivity, and positive development. Peggy was the first person to tell me that while I was making art, I was also cultivating many powerful creative skills.

Now that I work with artistic students in the college application process, I often hear them worry that an arts degree isn’t “sensible”. I couldn’t disagree more! Here is a short list of what artists are good at:

– Problem solving – being able to approach an issue and come up with many solutions
– Working alone with minimal supervision
– Working collaboratively
– Working effectively and in a disciplined manner
– Multitasking
– Delivering articulate critique
– Accepting critique and utilizing feedback positively
– Being able to consider issues in the long run as well as in detail

Those of us in the arts have been listening with some amusement to the national discussion on how to develop leaders for the 21st century. Critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, creativity… artists are already fantastic at this. Of course, anyone could learn these important skills in any major, but for creative students, an arts degree program can be the best, most appropriate context to better identify and interact with the world.

So. My message to you is the same one I got from Peggy: you are already so good at so many things.  Go have fun figuring out how to implement your many talents! We’re waiting for you.

 

Laura Young is the Director of Enrollment Management at UCLA’s School of the Arts and Architecture. She can be reached at laura.miwha.young@gmail.com, and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/lauramyoung/.

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