The Background

Photo Courtesy of Carlos Lopez

That's Me, at Sutro Baths! Photo Courtesy of Carlos Lopez,

So, It Begins… my first week of “Being an Artist.” Let me start by saying that I’m not as delusional as to think that my creative talents are genius enough to warrant quitting my job at the arguably, “Best Company to Work For.” In fact, it’s likely not. However, a number of things contributed to my decision.

Let me start with a bit of background. Before any of this, I read a book. I have to say, that most major shifts in perspective begin with a book. I have never been inspired to make a life change or think differently by a TV show, or even a movie.  Anyway, this book I read was a pretty cheesy self-help book called Finding Your Own North Star, by Martha Beck. It was recommended to me by my best friend, Danielle Burrow. Now, I’ve never read a self-help book in my life, and in full disclosure- I think the cover of the book is off-putting,  and the title is corny as hell, but the book itself is incredibly insightful and gives very actionable advice.  I read this book a few years ago, but the idea of leaving a stable job to pursue my dreams seemed far-fetched back then.  What it did do, was get me thinking of ways to keep painting while working at Google.

So, I enrolled in a few classes. Well, first I had to research my options for taking classes in the area. I could take classes at a junior college, such as Foothill College, or I could spend 3000% more and go to Academy of Art in SF. As far as I know, Academy of Art in SF would take anyone who could pay, but after looking at the numbers, I decided that $24 per unit at Foothill College made a lot more sense than $740 per unit at SF Academy. I’m not kidding, look it up. Honestly, aside from the potential alumni network and facilities, I really can’t imagine the instructors at Academy of Art being THAT incredibly stellar, considering most of the faculty there also teaches at City College of San Francisco (CCSF). After enrolling in Foothill for a few semesters, I moved up to the City and continued taking classes at CCSF.

Over the course of three years, here were the classes I took (mostly after work at night):

  • Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Watercolor
  • Color Theory
  • Figure Drawing
  • Museum Drawing
  • Sculpture

I might go into these classes later, but this was what started the spiral into what became my journey to becoming an Artist… Namely, being too cheap to shell out the money and get a legitimate Masters of Fine Arts (MFA). Here are a few other resources I’ve discovered in the process of pursuing my own Personal MFA.

  1. Handprint, by Bruce McEvoy – This is by far, the most comprehensive documentation of watercolor colors, technique, and materials I have ever seen. This guy is my hero.
  2. Art History Modules at Khan Academy – Apparently, this site was made by a father collecting resources for his son. Pretty amazing collection of Art History modules, I just wish there were more.
  3. Art History Resources – A huge database of random articles, projects, etc. Very poorly organized and hard to navigate, but has some good content.
  4. Resources: Again, hideous looking site with some links and resources. Kinda like how my blog is looking now. *Sigh* Why can’t art sites be more aesthetically pleasing? Oh, the irony.
  5. Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop Modules –

Anyway, you get the idea. I have a few more resources to share, but right now, I’m focused on toward ways to earn money while doing creative projects. I’m also working on submitting a poster idea for a contest, so I should get to working on that. More on this later.


2 Comments on “The Background”

  1. Sarah Dale says:

    Cindy, I’m so happy to find your blog! I’m an Art Director at a small ad firm, working on the side to build a portfolio for entrance into a MFA program. It’s so great to see someone else who’s doing the same thing – leaving their day job to become a “Real artist.” I look forward to reading more posts!

    • Sarah Dale says:

      Also, I might add…in my research I’ve found that most MFA candidates are fully funded and don’t pay a dime for school. Just something to think about since you felt you were too cheap to go to school. I am too, which is why I’m only going if I have 100% funding!

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