confront - 1I am at a crossroads in my quest for fulfillment. Having spent 50 years pursuing and fulfilling my dream of being an architect, I now sit alone in my apartment in Florence 7,676 kilometers (air KM) away from my architectural home of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA and 9,254 kilometers from my home in Merida, Mexico. I am just beginning my second term at the Angel Academy of Art—and those who follow this blog know that it has been an intense period of learning.

What have I learned so far:

It is possible to teach an old dog new tricks—but you can not make a dog a cat. Drawing is a rigorous act that demands both deep attention and awareness of one’s good and bad tendencies. For example, I tend to always draw feet too small and torsos too long. This trimester I am self-checking more than ever. Last semester I was enthralled with the amount I was learning and did not stop to look carefully at my “mistakes.” I am gaining confidence each day. I love getting up in the morning knowing that I will learn a new thing and come home a wiser person. I have learned that I have made the right choice and will be fulfilled with the life of an artist. More has been teased out of me than I would have guessed.

Being alone is not lonely. This is the longest that I have lived alone in my life. It takes some getting used to—more than I had imagined. Routine helps me avoid wasting time. The time I save is invested in me and not tedium. Living alone grants one a lot of time to think and ponder. There is no care-taking, wondering about another person physically, or using time to accommodate the other persons tendencies and needs. (Big note here: I am not suggesting that I prefer this lifestyle over being with my wife.)  I am very grateful that I have the resources to do this but more importantly have a life-partner who supports me. This is not to say that we don’t miss each other. That longing generally happens when I am sick or tired and unable to focus on work. But I must say that being able to live my own pace has advantages. It will be interesting, after this year of study is done, to see how Lea and I transition back together.

I need more. One of the best things about Angel Academy is the way they teach. It is based on the assumption that one needs a minimum of 7,500 hours of learning (3+ years) to become fully indoctrinated to their step-by-step rules based process. The advantage of this process is you will be able to paint realistically within the manner they espouse. The disadvantage comes when one can not, for financial or practical reasons, complete the full course. I entered Angel with my eyes wide-open: knowing full well that one year was the most I could give them. Having been through the first 11 weeks, and seeing the stages of all the other trimesters, it is clear that I will not be able to learn what I need within the next two terms. I will complete this term but have decided that I will jump into intense private tuition for the equivalent of the last trimester. I am interviewing instructors and other short-term course schools this month and will have a plan mapped out before I leave at the end of June for the summer break.

This new plan will take me away from the strict rules-based pedagogy of Angel and into a more direct method. More importantly, I will be painting. This is one reason I came to Italy in the first place and was sad to discover that I won’t get to painting until the second year—and even then only in grey (grisaille.) So, I am venturing out based on both cold intellectual calculation and pure intuition. Throughout my life when intellect and intuition have intersected good things have happened. I am hopeful that this past will be prologue. More later as the plan unfolds….

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