To Be An Artist
The two ingredients that I believe are needed to be an artist: the drive to do it and education. When I say education, I do not necessarily mean receiving a fine arts degree in college, and there are many free online websites, videos, and blogs dedicated to helping others learn the fundamentals of art. There is something magical about learning in person though, and if that is what you seek then there are many classes, schools, groups, and resources in New Hampshire to learn art with others. Today I’d like to talk about one place in particular that makes a big impact: The Art House Studios School for Drawing and Painting in Manchester.
The Art House Studios
Jason Bagatta was one of the most influential professors I had in college. Besides producing complex and highly-conceptual artwork that inspires others, he has been an educator who challenges students to look at the world differently. He has taught at the Institute of Art & Design at NEC (Formerly New Hampshire Institute of Art); Chester College of New England, Chester; Hesser College, Manchester/Nashua Campus; and Goddard College, Plainfield, VT. And now, he has opened up a new center for artistic education: Art House Studios School for Drawing & Painting, located at 66 Hanover St. Suite 202 in Manchester.
Jason has been developing the idea of this place for a long time. The Art House Studios is
a creative space focused on strengthening perception and technical skill through both an academic and conceptual approach. Short-term and theme-based projects enable students to engage a thorough exploration of media and ideas. Demonstrations and exercises in mark-making, contour line, color, and use of light and shadow are designed to strengthen technical ability through direct observation and experimental processes. The goal is to increase our understanding and use of the basic principles and elements of visual organization.
Jason has also been involved with many community-based arts projects and artist collectives, constantly developing artistic collaboration and opportunities for others. One of the most recent examples of this is that Jason was the organizer, host, and a participating artist in the M.A.P. (Music Art & Poetry) events and exhibitions at the Jupiter Hall Gallery in Manchester.
When asked what mediums Jason focuses on himself, his answer is bigger than just physical media:
Strangely enough, aside from traditional mediums, it’s people, time, and space. As an educator that’s kind of what I’m working with, so when I have to make a project, that’s a creative process for me. I think about all the steps and go through them myself and I try to put myself in the position of a student…and that’s a good medium.
Sometimes when I talk with friends or even new acquaintances, they speak about making art as such an unattainable thing, for themselves. I hear well-intending phrases like: “I wish I could paint like you” or “You’re so talented as an artist” or the one I’ve heard perhaps the most, “I couldn’t draw a stick-figure.” This line of thinking troubles me for two reasons:
The first being, the word talent creates a barrier, suggesting a natural-born gift is needed to achieve art and if you don’t have it, you can’t do it. It also feels reductive somewhat, when I believe it has been the decades of artistic practice and education I have undergone that has helped me be the artist I am, not an innate gift.
The second reason is because it puts too great an emphasis or value on the finished product of artwork. The experience of creating is the most fueling, and I think if you’re worried about how good you are at making a piece of art, then you’re missing the point of art.
The point of that loquacious soapbox rant was to say, if you want to be an artist, there is nothing holding you back but yourself. Get making. Start experimenting yourself or take a class!
I highly encourage you to check out more on The Art House Studios (website or Facebook) to experience an awesome class with Jason. Or if you’re not local, hunt around for something like it in your neck of the woods. You can certainly learn and practice art on your own, but it is pretty rewarding to connect and learn with others while making. It is because of professors like Jason that I have been able to continue to push myself as an artist after college. He was the first to say to me, many years ago, “It is the process not the product that matters.”