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  • Simone Richter

A new day - a new approach

Good evening dear humans.

I needed a little break from writing. Because I had to digest a little, that ...

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

I am very thankful that the Caravaggio exhibition in Munich in 2018 brought me (finally) to Florence. I love it here. And in my mind, I am already planning to come back next year.

Like I told someone recently: I was very touched and felt in a way "seen" (or I saw myself) through the paintings of Michelangelo Merisi di Caravaggio, so deeply that it made me tear up. And this was not due to the story depicted in the paintings, but the execution and mood they transmitted. And maybe my yearning was to realize - put into reality - the importance art has for me. Finding myself - on a different scale than I see myself already - as an artist. Taking myself even more serious. As the creative human, I am.

If you have read my social media you might have already figured that I am not going to the Angel Academy of Art anymore.

WHY IS THAT? You might ask. And: NOOOO. GO BACK THERE, because you felt you would never leave an art academy class. I would though. Because I am leaving behind and letting go of what is not serving me. At least I try to do that more and more in my life. And an unkind, stressful, overly regulated 9-5 job situation is something I figured out years ago is nothing that suits most people, and for sure not me.

So let me explain what my reasoning was. I mean, I kind of talked about what I did not like at the school already here. But what were my expectations which were not fulfilled?

A little list of what I actually wanted:

- an artsy atmosphere, free, creative, communicative, meeting inspiring people

- lectures on color, color mixing, color composition, meaning, etc. in old master's techniques

- lectures on composition

- lectures on brush techniques

- portrait history - the importance of light in a life setting

- what to look for in reference material

- painting demos - how to achieve texture

- maybe even create an amazing painting myself

And this is a tiny list of why I left:

- 9 to 5 working rhythm, where one has to leave the building during lunchtime (I don't work/function that way)

- no one (besides me) taking a break

- a break "room" (way to the garage) which no one showed us, but I discovered on day 3

- Standing in front of an easel 2x 3 hours straight and having precisely a 1.5h lunch break.

- no communication

- "projects" which have nothing to do with me (even though I understand the learnings)

- a teacher who does not teach or wants to answer questions ("this is out of curriculum", "I am the book") "if I would explain this to you it would be micromanaging" (No, it would be an answer to my question).

- no explanation on why we do something (to learn what), so we learned hard instead of smart. Meaning we had some instructions but no explanation. So everyone experimented. And failed in different ways. A nice way of creating a group of frustrated people

- ridiculing people when not understanding or forgetting things and the teacher becoming a bit angry

- not communicating the autism/non neuro-typical being of the teacher (maybe no one is aware???) and understanding, that this is not the best setup for teaching (most people),

- we were not introduced to other teachers

- no life drawing

- no other theory classes

- they did not give us a tour of the school (not so big), so we basically stayed in our room)

- the school is too small for the number of students, people from the first year sit on very small "tables" (a piece of wood screwed to the wall) in the halls of the space.

- not a really nice space

So all in all it felt a little bit like that the 4-week portrait class is not something they really want to put effort in. Actually, I have no clue what they are thinking. And off course, I wrote my critiques to them which they answered by saying that no one ever criticized the class. Haha. Probably. Nearly my whole class did complain. Not to the school. But to each other. And someone from the 3-year class is also leaving after the first trimester, I heard from an informed source :-). Interesting is also that other students recommend other schools to me which teach more kindly, in a nicer atmosphere.

I guess the result and learning of this experiment is that one needs to check the art school one wants to go to out and also communicate one's expectations. I found this school over Cesar Santos, who seems to be fun. And I also liked the founders attitude on video. But he is not a crucial part of this endeavor anymore. And the "lecture" with him was basically just reading out 30 to 40 names of artists in a 3 hour monolog and showing even more pictures.

Anyway. Florence is wonderful. And I won now 2,5 weeks to explore all I want. (And not just rushing through museums in the evenings or on the weekend. Juchuu!) That is another aspect which makes me really happy. The decision to leave made me kind of sad though. I liked the idea of going to an art school for a bit. To learn from the best. Well, I did not. And if it is not serving me, I better use my precious lifetime for something else.

Having said that and made that decision also brought me closer to finding out what I really wanted from this workshop. And I can report that I found myself fantastic tutorials (by Florent Farges) on color and oil painting which answers all my questions and even questions I did not know I have. I just watched 45 minutes of one of the video-based courses and I feel so full of valuable information. This makes me very happy.

I will let you know more about what I learned so far tomorrow.

Now I need to head off to life drawing.

See you tomorrow,

Siri from Florence

PS: Today, after a nice coffee with my man in a café close to our apartment, I went out again to find a spot where I could draw. And this is quite a demanding challenge because all streets (and even more the pavements) are very narrow. Finally I found a church on which's stairs I could sketch this view. Did a watercolor from the same street and buzzy food stand as well. You can find it on my Instagram.

Oh and guess who has lunch on these stairs... basically half of the academy :-)

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