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Student Perspective: Carolina Brunet (V CERT 2023)
February 22, 2023 · Student Perspectives
My journey to become an artist started fifteen years ago when I quit my job as a graphic designer and started painting full time. I immigrated from Chile to the United States in 2004; I lived in Minneapolis for ten years and it was there I established myself as an abstract painter with a strong desire to discover my own path as an artist. I felt lucky to be able to follow my passion receiving the support of my family.
In 2017, I moved to New Jersey and at the beginning of 2019 I had to move to California. During those two years, I was determined to continue with my studies and expand my way to see and understand art. I commuted to New York almost every day to fulfill my quest. I was a self-taught artist who saw an amazing opportunity to be close to New York, taking advantage to go to museums, galleries, meet people and see as much art as I could. Every day, I arrived at home with so many ideas and inspirations to use on my own work.
I thought I would be living close to New York for a long time, but life changes fast and while in California I had to reinvent myself again. It was at that moment when I found the New York Studio School. Because of the pandemic lockdown, the School was offering virtual classes. I decided to take evening classes to have the opportunity to get familiar with the School. I enrolled in Friday Evening Painting on Paper with Kaitlin McDonough and experienced the intensity of the Drawing Marathon with Graham Nickson. I was impressed by the professionalism, energy of the instructors, and sense of community.
One year later, I was part of the first group of students who enrolled in the Virtual Certificate Program that the School was opening for the first time. I was very impressed how the School was able to adjust very fast to the circumstances that we were living in. I transformed my garage into my sacred studio space, and I had to change my old computer to be able to support new applications like Zoom and Padlet. Other than that, I was ready to start. We started as a group of fifteen students from diverse and different places: from East, West, Pacific coast, Australia and South Africa. Later new students joined us from Mexico City and Egypt.
The Virtual Certificate is an intense and professional program with the same rigor as the in-person program. Full time classes every day, atelier and critic with the Dean of the School, Graham Nickson, and intense discussions about art and contemporary themes.
I think my passion for art comes from my mother’s side. My grandmother liked to paint and draw, and she did it very well. My mother liked it as well and I always saw her drawing faces or objects. Meanwhile, she was very busy taking care of her six children. As we grew up and became more independent, she was able to start painting and drawing seriously and became a teacher.
Even though, as a child, I always loved to play with paints and materials in a more free and expressive way, drawing never came easily or naturally to me. The first semester, I decided to take drawing as my main goal, and I took all the options I had with Instructors Fran O’Neill, Lourdes Bernard, John Lees, and virtual open drawing sessions with a model. Since then, I draw every day and have learned how to use it as an observational, experimentation and idea making process.
The atelier with Fran O’Neill gave me the freedom for experimentation, I started incorporating diverse media like oils, acrylics, collage and dove deeper on the use of color and form. For the first time I started painting en plein air. Fran O’Neill’s mentorship really helped me to start knowing myself and investigating my own interests.
The knowledge of art that we receive from Graham Nickson in his atelier and critiques is invaluable to me. The knowledge of how to find interesting images, how to incorporate mystery, poetry and adventure, use metaphors and myth in a painting, how to work from perception, reality and memory, are just some of the concepts I have learned from all the instructors of the School: Linda Darling, Kaitlin McDonough, Fran O’Neill, John Lees, Lourdes Bernard, Charity Baker, Bruce Gagnier… just to name a few.
I am still processing the knowledge I received these past two years, and it would not have been possible to obtain this level of knowledge, and meet a cohort of artists to trust, and feel part of a community, if I had not participated in the Virtual Certificate Program at the New York Studio School.