The self-portrait featured is by Fina Mooney, completed when she was 16. It was painted in oils using Natural Pigments products and won a 2nd place at the 2021 Oil Painters of America 30th National Exhibition.
Fina is a student of mine. I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Columbia College, Chicago, and spent six months studying Italian Renaissance and Baroque Art through Loyola University's Rome Center in Rome, Italy. During that stay I travelled extensively throughout Europe, visiting museums to gain a firsthand understanding of art history. Then I devoted nine years to the field of children's text and trade books, working in production, design, and illustration. I moved to Minnesota to study at Atelier Lack, which when under the guidance of Richard Lack, the founder of the Classical Realist movement, emphasized the disciplines of nineteenth century academic and impressionist painting Upon graduation I was an instructor in the full-time program at The Atelier for 5 years. I’ve also taught workshops on drawing, painting, composition, color theory, and Renaissance and Baroque oil painting to adults pursuing careers in the fine arts.
In 1993 I founded The Art Academy of St. Paul. Unlike other ateliers who concentrate on adult education, the main focus of the school has been on teaching children and adolescents traditional drawing and painting methods based upon historic principles. I research Renaissance and Baroque studio practices continuously and it has shaped The Art Academy of St. Paul’s core values. Our philosophy is very different from most art schools, which tacitly encourage notions of genius and talent. But talent is not a precursor to success in the arts – devotion is. Consequently, at The Art Academy we believe that with time, encouragement, and proper instruction, anyone can learn to draw and paint exceptionally well.
Currently I am working on establishing a national arts program for children and teens with George O’Hanlon and Tatiana Zaytseva, the co-founders of Natural Pigments. I so admire George and Tatiana’s devotion to quality fostered through critical study. It honors the ideal of a rejuvenation of Renaissance Apprenticeship, updated to gratify current theories of aesthetics. In addition to teaching, I have also written and lectured on artists and the importance of art history in professional artists' lives. My articles have appeared in the Classical Realism Journal and on the Natural Pigments website.