Document Your Career and Introducing American Artist School

In the 1960s, I lived across the street from the parents of James Rosenquist, one of the most celebrated Pop artists who is known for using the techniques of billboard sign painters to create collages of representational images. When Mrs. Rosenquist learned I was an art student, she invited me to rummage through her garage where she had secretly stored dozens of her son’s student paintings and three file cabinets full of newspaper and magazine articles on his rising art career. “Jim doesn’t know I saved all this,” she explained. “If he did, he would burn everything so no one could see his early work.”

Ironically, much of Rosenquist’s archival material and personal possessions did burn in a fire that ravaged one of his homes in Florida this past April. He was in the process of transferring the ownership of documents to Princeton University, which was to become a center for the study of the 75-year-old artist’s career. If he had followed his mother’s example and secured his early paintings and exhibition records, Princeton might now have a complete archive.

Fortunately, many artists follow a routine of donating or selling their correspondence, drawings, paintings, catalogues, and published reviews to museums, universities, or the Archives of American Art. Those institutions maintain and preserve records of artists’ careers, and they make many of the documents available online through their websites. For example, one of my friends has a file with his alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin, and there are about 70 documents relating to Rosenquist that are available online through the Archives’ website, although most of those were donated by people associated with the artist rather than by the painter himself.

Artists tend to focus on the future, not the past, but so much of their legacy depends on making the records of their creative work and careers available to scholars and artists. You may not yet be as famous as James Rosenquist, but it would still be worthwhile for you to preserve the evidence of your life for the benefit of your descendents, collectors, students, and friends.

Introducing: American Artist School

We’re excited about launching a new program designed to give you personal instruction from nationally recognized artists – one that doesn’t require you to leave your studio in order to receive valuable lessons!

The American Artist School classes are conducted online with the first session being a webinar lecture. The text and images for that comprehensive introduction will be on your computer screen and the instructor will speak to you over the telephone. That first session will be followed by several weeks of instruction and critiques you can access at your convenience, any time of the day. All you need to have is a computer with high-speed internet access! A materials list will be provided when you register.

Browse the selection of classes, preview videos featuring the drawing and painting instructors, and purchase a great learning experience!  Just click here and learn more about a new method of learning in your home or studio.

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M. Stephen Doherty

About M. Stephen Doherty

I've been interested in art since I was a child,  and I was fortunate to be able to take Saturday art classes at the Cincinnati Art Museum from the time I was 9 years old until I finished high school. I majored in art at Knox College and graduated summa *** laude, Phi Beta Kappa (proving artists can use both sides of their brain!).  I then earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking from Cornell University; taught art in public schools, a community college, an adult education program, and a college; worked in the marketing department of a company that manufactured screen printing supplies; and was hired to be editor of American Artist in January, 1979.

Thomas S. Buecher introduced me to plein air painting and it immediately became a passion of mine because it got me outdoors and allowed me to continue learning when I traveled to judge art shows, attend conventions, give lectures, and interview artists. Over the years I've exhibited my paintings at Bryant Galleries in New Orleans, Trees Place Gallery on Cape Cod, and in a traveling exhibition titled From Sea to Shining Sea.

I've written 10 books on artists and art techniques and contibuted articles to magazines, websites, and exhibition catalogs. Now as I prepare for semi-retirement, I'm trying to hone my painting skills -- especially those related to painting portraits.

I've been very fortunate to have met thousands of talented artists who have enriched my life with their art, their friendship, and their advice. I am grateful to Jerry Hobbs and Susan Meyer who hired me in 1979, to the talented people who worked with me on the magazines, and to the artists and advertisers who supported American Artist, Watercolor, Workshop, and Drawing  magazines and the related websites.

I've also been blessed with a supportive, talented wife, Sara; a daughter, Clare, who works for an insurance agency; a son, Michael, who is a computer enginner in Austin; a son-in-law, Shawn, who can fix and carry anything; a granddaughter, Amanda, who has me wrapped around her finger; and my mother, Dotty, who has advised and encouraged me from the beginning.

One thought on “Document Your Career and Introducing American Artist School

  1. Steve, thanks for the reminder to document our work. We artists sometimes get so wrapped up in production, framing, delivering to shows… and often we are so behind schedule that we forget to get good photos/images of our work.

    Proper documentation of our work should be a regular part of our artist “chores”. If you think of it and have time, perhaps you could write an article or blog on the most important things/ways to document our work.

    Thanks again,