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10 May 2015


What Would An Academy Of Emulation Look Like?

The Reasons We Learn To Draw:
I. to see
if we can’t see, we can’t understand
II. to understand
if we don’t understand, we won’t remember
III. to remember
Memory is the mother of the Muses

The Role Of Drawing In Making Art:
I. exploration
invention is the search for form
II. invention
invention is not a priori, it is discovered through drawing
III. refinement
once we have invented, we need to refine in order to make Beauty

How Drawing For Study Influences Drawing For Invention:
I. what you draw conditions what you invent
you only draw after masters you want to emulate
II. how you draw conditions how you invent
drawing after masters shapes your hand in a similar way to theirs
III. how you invent conditions how you draw (which conditions how you invent…)
your facility in invention facilitates your learning by drawing

Masters Are As Important As Models:
I. exemplary art frames our aspirations
other artists have defined a range of possibilities, and standards of achievement
our art is understood, evaluated, and interpreted with respect to theirs
we form virtual apprentices to these past masters
II. Ceci n'est pas une pipe (this is not a pipe): a picture is not the subject, it is an object
a painting is both a depiction of something else, and a material object with its own qualities (influenced by the material itself and the artist’s hand)
painterly technique is what distinguishes the subject from the object
therefore, how you paint is just as important as what you paint
III. the greatest masters were great thinkers (as Bernini described Poussin, un grande cervelone, a great big brain)
we don’t copy them, we emulate them
therefore, we need to understand them, and therefore
they need to be understandable

The Theme Is At Least As Important As Technique:
I. we learn to paint in order to compellingly convey stories and ideas
II. the classic subjects of paintings are what sponsor and condition classical form
III. how an artist painted Dido is just as important as how he or she painted shadows

This should clarify what would distinguish an academy of emulation (a truly classical academy) from an academy of imitation, which is most if not all of the academy’s out there; schools of realism more than academies per se, they are more properly ateliers, where one learns someone’s way of painting, rather than learning to think about and understand the nature of painting. An academy of emulation is directed toward invention, an academy of imitation is directed toward documentation.