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  1. #1
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    You're get'n screwed...Art Education Sucks!

    http://barnstonestudios.com/video/do...video_doc.html

    Just something to watch. Throw some bunnies in the lion cage and see what happens.
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  4. #2
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    He seemed very careful not to sound arrogant, which I think he succeeded (for as much of the vid as I saw). He also didn't spill over into ARC paranoia. cool video (though I wish they showed more of the students working)
    Last edited by Justin.; April 28th, 2008 at 09:54 AM.

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    He brought up allot of relevant views toward art education that I myself have mentioned and discussed with friends for years This really makes me appreciate having graduated from such a formal Art institute. This was a great find NoseRider thanks for sharing.
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    I think this documentary actually encompasses the philosophy which CA tries to teach. I like how he said, like Vilppu says, that he is trying to discipline the students to develop tools so that they can use them later on to express themselves. It's just like trying to learn your ABC's and Grammar before you can write a book.
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    nice find.
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    Thanks for posting. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why the place sounded vaguely familiar and then I looked at the zip code for the place. It's a stone's throw from my house and I've heard the name around. I never heard it was this good before though. I just thought it was art classes for kids. My bad! That's what I get for assuming.
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    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=113454

    Just as a side note, you might want to watch that thread too.
    I like 'watching and listening' to people of substance.
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  10. #8
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    oh my god, Barnstone! Some of my friends studied with him when I was in high school. I never took any classes, he always seems way too dogmatic from all things that I heard and saw (one of those schools where most of the student's work became indistinguishable after enough time)

    Some interesting stuff though, good video
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    Dave,

    Do you think when the students works replicate the instructor's and become indistinguishable, that is the fault of the instructor? If all the work the students show are assignments, then naturally their work will all look the same.

    He addresses this quite well. I think he hits everything right on the head.
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    Damn, this is gospel.
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  13. #11
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    i have to agree with Otis. The teachers focus is working on technical ability, and offering real training so when they graduate they can be creative and experiment, but as long as they know and have those foundations it will make their lives so much easier.
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  14. #12
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    Dave,

    Do you think when the students works replicate the instructor's and become indistinguishable, that is the fault of the instructor? If all the work the students show are assignments, then naturally their work will all look the same.

    He addresses this quite well. I think he hits everything right on the head.
    In theory, it's not bad.

    Of course, you learn by trying to replicate your instructor. I personally don't believe in the instructor dictatorship though. Even with the nuts and bolts, there's not just one "right" way. He complains about student portfolios being all over the place because they were trying to satisfy all the different teachers and assignments, but that's no different from what his own students are doing. The only reason that they aren't scattered is because he's the only teacher. The problem is the same though, they still have not found their own path. Unfortunately when you've only ever been told one way to do things and are indoctrinated to believe that any deviation is incorrect, it's much harder to grow beyond.

    So in either case, either with a group of teachers from varied backgrounds or with one very hard-line teacher, the student is still going to need time once they've gone off on their own to find their own personal way. Personally, I've studied with many teachers who all had their strengths and weaknesses. Some were more in tune with what I was interested in and some were less, but they all had good things to offer. As a result, I feel like I've had many examples of many different approaches and that let me discover how I like to do things instead of being pounded into a mold.

    The students I see come out of programs like the one that Barnstone offers have only ever been seriously instructed in one way though, and more often than not, they don't feel comfortable to break away from that security. Many don't even know how to branch off because of the intensity and focus of their schooling. More often they become a watered down clone to their school. I personally think that it leads to a close-minded mentality and stifles an artists growth.

    The instructor has spent decades arriving at where s/he is and s/he knows why every choice has been made in their method. The student who acts as apprentice to that one instructor doesn't have that same experience. They do because they're told that it's the correct way, but have not experienced enough other possibilities to know why or even if that is true.

    The fact that many art schools in this country (most even?) seriously undervalue foundation skills is certainly a shame, but I don't believe this type of instruction is the only alternative. In my opinion, a good teacher should have the humility to know that they don't know everything, and that just doesn't seem to fit the personality of the type of person who ever starts this sort of school.

    But like I said, he does still have alot of good things to say. I just disagree on some points.
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  16. #13
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    haven't watched it yet but as a quick aside, as an art educator: Yes, you want your students to have their own voice/path/style. You don't want them to just "paint like you paint." On the other hand, you can't tell someone to just make their own style all at once. Most kids don't even know what they want to do, depending on age. Also, a teacher can only teach what he knows. there's no use trying to teach what you don't.

    I think the best a teacher can do is say, look, try it my way and see if you like it. Experiment where you can, when the idea strikes you, and I won't criticize for it. I can give crits, but you don't have to just replicate me to get an A. Oh, and be sure to study with many, many teachers!

  17. #14
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    I don't know much about art in the US, are there foundation courses there?

  18. #15
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    Moderation in everything I suppose.
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  19. #16
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    Art schools bad? noooooooooooooooooooo.
    My current art school gives me less information than 3 pages out of a bridgman book about drawing or painting.

    But they do give a degree and plenty of free time.

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    I can't seem to find any of Mr. Barnstone's work online. That, to me, is a bad sign. He may be one of those well studied teachers that has focused so narrowly on academic figure drawing principles he has wholly forgotten the imagination in the mix. There seems to be quite a few academicians out there like him. Anybody have any pix of his work?

    I saw somewhere that he was discussing the use of golden section math in composition... another ominous sign IMHO.
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    Heh, the CA Atelier's a lot like that. Classical master/apprentice style training... But at the atelier it's amazing how everyone there gets the same teaching and still you can tell who did which piece every time. The cast drawings are really the only place it looks somewhat alike from one person to another but those are exercises and studies, not personal works (I'm of the opinion that nothing you do as a school assignment, unless it's very self-directed, should be in your portfolio anyway except maybe to display technical skill).

    But most people there already have art educations and backgrounds and they're very adamant that you have to figure out what you want for your own art career and tailor the assignments to that. So retaining a personal voice is encouraged.

    At any rate at least around here in California I know small private schools and ateliers are popping up left and right - it's pretty amazing really. I hope this renaissance continues and seeps into the big schools too

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  23. #19
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    I met this guy and checked out his studio back in...97 or 98? One of my friends at the time lived in his studio while studying with him. He is HARDCORE! No screwin around while studying with this dude.

    My impression was he is indeed arrogant but still teaches good info. He has a very strong idea of what is and isn't art...PERIOD!

    Don't see too much art from him though. Thanks for this post, ever since then I've been trying to find more stuff on this guy.

    BTW, I believe Lee Weeks (comic book dude) studied with him for a bit. Maybe Joe Quesada??? Some others I can't recall.

    It was funny to see him rip apart some of Alex Ross artwork we showed him. He was impressed with Frazetta's sense of design. He went over Frazetta's paintings with tracing paper showing how the design/geometry...golden section methods were there in Frazetta's paintings. I think it's called informal subdivision that he used.

    I must admit what turned me off was he seemed like he was saying only he had the "SECRET" of drawing that nobody else had. Quite the salesman if I remember correctly.
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    Dave, Barnstone's got a video response for 'ya



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    Is Wierd Al in his studio learning!?

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    He won't learn much; he doesn't appear to have eyes.

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    Listening to that kind of bad classical music all day while training would make me go nuts as well. Although he has some points, I still don't see the need for such a classical art education. It's also always funny to see how the Americans complain about bad art education in their primary and secondary schools, while over here we have problems to even have enough teachers for German, Maths and Physics. My school even cancelled art classes in 7th grade. Can't say I really feel sorry for it.

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    tag for later

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    Why cant there be more teachers like that...

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    The more you know...

    If you are interested in reading more on this topic I'll suggest "The Shape of Content" by Ben Shahn.. its an older book but its still relevant since nothing much has changed about art education except its further decline. I have my BA but it was pretty much a waste of time...
    Last edited by illgnosis; April 29th, 2008 at 02:30 PM. Reason: typo

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    I should add my two cents.

    Two of my friends (My room mate Freshman year and his girlfriend a year later) left my school to work under him. My room mate studied for 2 years and his girlfriend for one.

    Anyway, I met the guy. I feel like he's stuck in the 50s or 60s. (In the "art school is full of hippy freaks" sort of mindset of the 60s) Much of the stuff that he teaches revolves around the golden section. I saw him dissect a Van Gogh sketch and from that point on was completely unconvinced. He was acting like Van Gogh was actually plotting golden section points onto his drawing which he probably didn't spend much longer than 10-20 minutes on. Dissect crappy neo-classical paintings all you want, but there's no way that Van Gogh used it in a quick sketch.

    What it all boils down to in my head is that successful composition will no matter what have elements of the golden section simply because it is indeed pleasing to look at. My friend came back from Barnestone's and dissected one of my friend's drawings and found that even he had elements of the golden section.

    Which in my mind completely revokes its usefulness, because my friend was surely not composing his image with it.

    Do people learn how to draw well under him? Sure. Do they learn how to paint well under him? Well, that's debatable. He doesn't teach painting so much as he teaches colored drawing, but sure, people paint.

    It all comes down to being a highly structured intense program that makes you produce lots of work. Any setting where you're working your ass off and constantly face critique with peers will enable you to get better. *gasp* You can do that at art school, too.

    Granted, his program is cheaper. The students also probably get more life drawing in a month than most art schools give you in 4 years, too. ;\

    The golden section is still bull shit though.

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  34. #28
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    Kev, what's your take on the Golden composition rule?

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    It's just a fancy title for Layout and Design.

    There are no rules. Just rough, rough guidelines.
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    Gory - Actually one of the biggest steps I had in my artistic learning was when Carl dissected old masters' and other paintings that way - but we mostly didn't talk about the golden rule but looked at implied lines, motifs, etc. Through the whole thing he kept saying those guys weren't sitting there planning it all out... You can think about these things while you're composing an image but a lot of it is just coming from your innate sense of what will look good. A composition that has these elements will work better because it speaks to everyone's same innate sense, which all work on the same principles. But thinking that it's all planned and plotted beforehand can actually be a hurdle because your comps will be stiff and forced - and it makes approaching painting a lot more intimidating. So essentially, dissecting things that way is supposed to lead to knowing *why* some compositions work so well, so that you can use it to evaluate your own thumbnails and choose the one that'll work the best and maybe adjust it some to encompass more of those elements. You don't draw a set of boxes making up the golden rule and then try to figure out how to draw in those boxes - you would just use it to move your focal point a bit to one side or the other or figure out a better cropping or something like that.

    So I'd had classes where teachers listed all the things that you're supposed to have in a painting and just came away intimidated and confused, when the key information they weren't giving was that it's mostly used in a fine-tuning and in-process-decision-making way and not as the skeleton to start from. The skeleton is your thumbnails, and those classical painters DID do thumbnails and studies before the final painting, and the sketches that work work for the same reasons the finished painting does. So you're partially right saying that nobody sat and plotted each of those points, but you're partially wrong in saying that it's not useful - it's extremely important to know the ingredients of a good composition!



    Anyway I'd just like to add that having a good classical background will inevitably give you a MUCH better ground to stand on than having no drawing training at all. Ateliers don't teach you your own style or voice. That should be your own responsibility. Teachers SHOULD only give you the technical knowledge base, which is exactly what ateliers *excel* at.

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