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Student Perspective: Nick Hill (MFA 2022)
March 22, 2022 · Student Perspectives
When I was in undergraduate studies, I was already under the mindset that I was going to obtain my masters degree somewhere. Having attended a Drawing Marathon at the New York Studio School the summer before my graduation from Tulsa University, I already had a taste of what the possibilities at the New York Studio School would be like. During that Marathon I had the chance to tour the facilities thanks to the staff. The School made me feel comfortable, even in the midst of all the chaos of New York City. I could see myself working in those studios. The intensity of that Drawing Marathon itself was enough to excite me. I am attracted to intensity, I have learned, and I like things to be difficult.
The transition from Oklahoma to New York was extremely difficult. I have never really had much financial stability, and had also never lived on my own. There were a number of great difficulties involved in this transition, not least of which the acquisition and retention of a job in Brooklyn. My adjustment to the pace of this job was very stressful. I would have to leave drawing classes to go to work, and I remember intensely dreading going to that job. This made the first academic year at NYSS very tumultuous, and I felt hardly able to keep up with the lessons and artist talks. That first year went by very fast, and I felt guilty for not trying to grasp more. I didn’t feel like I had retained much.
Toward the end of the first year I was feeling more uncertain than ever of my artistic ability. I think the main source of the dilemma is that while I’ve been drawing my entire life, I am relatively new to the world of color. And so I began to ponder the possibility that I was merely a good draughtsman; not a painter. I expressed these concerns to my mentors Graham Nickson, Elisa Jensen and Savy Levy, who encouraged me to continue to entertain these questions, and to keep going.
During the fall semester of my second year, I began to feel I had a better hold on things in general: my finances, time management and commitment to the School, my attitude, among other things. I believe I made some very important strides in that semester, though I do not believe I was fully aware of the extent of those strides, for I was living day by day, trying to focus on what was in front of me, especially my classes. I think overall I felt more or less the same about my color situation.
Something happened at the beginning of my final semester (happening as I write this), in Clintel Steed’s Fall Drawing Marathon which transitioned into a Painting Marathon during the second week. This is when I feel like I exploded with color. I produced two paintings during this week that sold right away. Two weeks after that, I sold another painting. It was as if during this period my intake and processing of all the things the instructors were drilling into me were finally falling into place, and I was seeing color in an entirely new way. Shapes had already been exciting me to this point, and the addition of this new pursuit of color made everything all the more delightful for me. There has been no shortage of ideas in terms of painting; my busy lifestyle ensures that I have precious little time to paint, but that all gives me more desire to do so and to build a better life for myself so that I can have time to paint and take on the projects I want.
I knew when I was an undergraduate, that wherever I did my graduate studies was going to be hard. What I didn’t know when I was an undergraduate was that I would be studying for my masters in New York. I applied to several schools during my senior year at TU, and had offered a full-ride scholarship along with a job, on-site housing and even a stipend at one. It was the easy route. I was glad to have been accepted somewhere, yet I had not heard from the New York Studio School, which was the goal. I knew somehow that if I were to study at the New York Studio School for my masters, I would receive more than just a formal education. My two-week visit during the previous summer had changed my perception of art entirely. In those two weeks Graham opened my eye to more questions than I had been presented with during all my studies, it seemed. So I knew that if the New York Studio School accepted me, it was of the utmost necessity that I attend there, because while it certainly was the more difficult of my options, I knew ultimately it would be the one that yielded a more substantial learning experience.