When I was in art school we all had to study what many like to call The Old Masters. These consisted of a bunch of dead White guys who thought they were all that. Apparently many of my art school professors thought that too. We had to study their lives, copy their techniques and try to reproduce their paintings in order to be a “real artist.”
At least once per week, for several hours at a stretch, I would sit on an uncomfortable stool, surrounded by smelly messy oil paints, smelly messy linseed oil, smelly messy turpentine, and frustrated fellow students, trying to reproduce something some of us had no interest in.
I hated it. That way of mark making was not my forte. It showed. Each time a student or instructor passed by and paused at my canvas I expected, and got a weird comment that was supposed to be funny, or a sigh, or some other wordless noise before they moved on. I also hated oils. I still do. But when I was in school that was THE WAY to learn to create good and proper art.
Those, and my drawing classes made me feel there was something lacking. Where were the Native American “Old Masters?” Where were the Mayans, the Inuits, the Africans, the Egyptians, the Asians? To be fair, there were classes in African and other types of art, but they were focused on culture taught through the art of that civilization. We were never instructed in duplicating this type of art. It was taught from a historical point of view and considered primitive.
I also took classes in comics and graphic novels. But those classes, along with the those in illustration all seemed to radiate from the same roots: the stuffy and rather depressing oil paintings of the so called Old Masters.
When I worked in what was becoming my own style I was told that my art was too “cartoony” and would never be accepted as “real art.”
Now of course much has changed. Artists are honoring many “Old Masters” from the lands I mentioned. They are making beautiful updated art inspired by the ancients who, in my opinion, were just as good and just as important as the Europeans and their salons.