A relevant article on the de-skilling of fine art

As one who has moved into fine art informally rather than via any formal art education, I still spend hours trying to draw from real life- whether it is objects found in one's home or outdoors landscape. My own belief about fine art is that first you learn to draw real life with focus on perspective, proportion, tonal values, etc. Once you have achieved a decent level then go ahead and do your abstracts or whatever. If you have always escaped the first and the hard part and merely play with 'abstractions' (that are forgiving by their very nature), then you are not a true artist in my eyes, how many ever millions of pounds your paintings might garner. 

Found this very relevant article on The Huffington Post by F. Scott Hess, an excerpt of which is reproduced, with link below:
"In 1974, when I was a freshman art student at a small Midwestern liberal arts college in Wisconsin, I wanted to learn to draw the human figure. One untenured professor took me under his wing and encouraged that process, but the department chair, an alcoholic abstract painter, stumbled into the studio late one evening while I was studying a plaster head that showed the muscles of the face. He slowly looked at me, then at the head. "This is not art!" he screamed, lifting the cast high and smashing it on the cement at his feet. Pleased with his stirring defense of Western Civilization, he staggered out the door.
Over the years my representational painting colleagues have expressed many similar stories, some funny in retrospect, coming as they do from the lucky few who successfully survived the vicissitudes of our academic art institutions. My experience was by no means an isolated incident for me. Other professors in other institutions purposely scribbled crude 'corrections' over carefully drawn works, daily held my work up to ridicule because of its style, or browbeat any opinion that tried to breach their academic dogma. I was a stubborn young cuss and held my ground. I often heard from fellow students, "I want to draw like you, but I don't dare!" "

For more, read the article here

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