Q: How did you prepare yourself to change careers and work as a professional artist?
Posted by barbararachkoscoloreddust
A: At the age of 33 I was a Lieutenant in the Navy, working as computer analyst at the Pentagon. I was very unhappy with my job. I began looking for something else to do and discovered The Art League School in Alexandria, VA. I enrolled in classes with Lisa Semerad, then spent the next two years developing my drawing skills using black and white media (charcoal, pencils, conte crayon, etc.).
After that I moved on to color media and began studying soft pastel with Diane Tesler. During this time I was still in the Navy, working the midnight shift at the Pentagon and taking art classes during the day. I was a very motivated student.
After three years or so I was getting quite proficient as an artist, entering local juried shows, winning prizes, garnering press coverage, etc. Prior to my career change, I worked hard to develop my portrait skills. I really didn’t know how I could make a living other than by making commissioned portraits. I volunteered to run a weekly life drawing class at The Art League School in Alexandria, VA, where I made hundreds of figure drawings using charcoal.
I spent a semester commuting between Washington, DC and New York to study artistic anatomy at the New York Academy of Art. I spent another semester studying gross anatomy with medical students at Georgetown University Medical School. Over time I became skilled at making photo-realistic portraits. In 1989 I resigned from the Navy and have worked full-time as a visual artist ever since.
Comments are welcome!
Posted in 2014, An Artist's Life, Creative Process, Inspiration, Pastel Painting, Photography, Working methods
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