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2016 Ashland Gallery

“Through research and experience, … she ‘got picky’ about whom she chose as her teachers...” While many art schools and universities these days seem to value concept over technical skill, “ateliers” (French for “workshops”) are springing up around the world in a revival of tradition-based realist art. “People are craving to learn this,” Burns says, referring to such timeless skills as composition, perspective, or classical life drawing. As a young artist Burns craved to learn these skills herself, first studying at the Ashland Art Academy, then often traveling down to attend grass-root ateliers in the Bay Area. Through research and experience, she says she “got picky” about whom she chose as her teachers and what specifically she wanted to learn. Ashland Gallery Guide 41 Yet “breaking though their sense of unworthiness” is “the primary goal” of her teaching. Etienne explains, “People say to me, ‘Oh no. I can’t put charcoal to paper. I’ve never done that.’ But I say, ‘Jump in! Let’s do it together.’” Denise Kester, who has taught monoprinting in the valley for over 25 years, knows from her own art practice how terrifying it is to begin. “Perfection is overrated,” she says. ”If you meet someone who is afraid or whose expectations are too high, it is very sad.” Kester begins her classes with advice on how to start. Let go of perfectionism and negativity. Trust yourself and what the outcome will be. She reminds her students, “You will create what is true for you right now.” This idea of making art from of a place of courage rather than criticism, is also why Kester loves working with young people so much. “You just suggest something and they try it,” she says. “It’s amazing what they can accomplish.” When students “really get it, or at least when they can see the potential, what’s possible even if they can’t get it,” says Kester, it is a mark of success. “We are totally in charge of our own education,” claims painter Sarah Burns. Currently a teacher of academic drawing and painting at the Ashland Art Center, Burns is herself a takecharge learner and credits the New Atelier Movement for much of her education as an artist. Photo and art supplied by Denise Kester. Photo by Mark Arinsberg C O N T I N U E D Denise Kester with a student in Ashland High School's art classroom. Sarah Burns draws attention to student’s work in the Ashland Art Center classroom.


2016 Ashland Gallery
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