Today we feature junior Hannah Healy, who is studying to obtain her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with an Atelier concentration. Hannah discusses her journey to choosing her major, why she chose Rowan to pursue art, her experience as a student in Rowan’s learning environment while participating in an apprenticeship, and her future professional and academic goals.
What is the Studio Art major?
Studio Art encompasses basically a fine art practice. This type of art consists of two dimensional drawing and painting, three dimensional sculpture, and we also have media arts now as new media is an expanding genre. But in general terms, studio art just means you’re in the studio, doing your art practice.
Can you describe your concentration?
Atelier is traditionally like an apprenticeship where you’re studying under a master. The atelier that I am attending and partnering with is Rowan University and Philadelphia’s Studio Incamminati. The focus is on oil painting and realism.
The atelier component is just that we are here under the guidance of true masters in this field. It is pretty different from traditional art programs right now at surrounding universities. Some other colleges focus on abstract and our main focus is realism and traditional art.
How did you get interested in art?
I am an only child and I’ve been drawing roses in my backyard since I was a little girl. I always loved coming inside and showing my parents my drawings. They were always proud and encouraging from such a young age. Growing up, I just spent a lot of time just keeping myself busy especially because both of my parents were realtors. Whether I was in the car or in their office, I would just spend all day sketching to pass time.
I didn’t actually pick up a paintbrush until high school when I took my first acrylic painting class. This class was what actually got me seriously interested in art and where this hobby of mine transformed into something bigger. I then decided to apply to art school and to pursue this more seriously and professionally.
What made you choose Rowan to study Studio Art?
I first found Studio Incamminati through an organization called The Art Renewal Center. This organization basically vets ateliers like this one, Studio Incamminati. They are focused on contemporary realism art and it is a very prestigious organization. The reason why I decided to attend was because this organization does offer financial aid and they are fully accredited, which is rare because some of these schools are very small so they’re not able to provide that or receive that.
After I started attending, the best thing that happened was the partnership with Rowan University which is actually what allowed me to finish my bachelor’s degree. I’m a returning student and I’ve always wanted to get my bachelor’s degree and now I am able to obtain my bachelor’s in fine arts. Without the partnership, this wouldn’t be possible.
Can you talk about the partnership and how important it is for students to have this opportunity?
At least for me, a professional and educational goal of mine is to get my master’s in fine arts. I think that that will give me a lot of credibility when I go to the art gallery with my portfolio. With that being said, step one of that is getting a bachelor’s. What’s great about the partnership is that you have three years of full immersion in the studio.
With Rowan coming in for the liberal arts and general education component, those classes are equally important. Within these classes you learn about art history and you take your English composition classes so that you can be articulate in your artist statements. It’s really a perfect balance for me.
What made you focus on the concentration you chose?
I actually did attend a private art school straight out of college over 10 years ago, and it was a really cool program. It focused a lot on the principles of design and other professional routes like fashion design, product design and other things like that. I was first happy that I could be creative and make money and that was all exciting to me. However, I couldn’t deny that I really loved the traditional art mediums and I loved painting.
Painting and traditional mediums are actually becoming more popular again, and I think it’s great to return to these things and learn what the masters took centuries and centuries to develop.
What job opportunities are there within this field of study?
The most direct career path for an affiliate like this would be to be a portrait painter. The founder of our school, Nelson Shanks, is a world-renowned and world-class portrait painter. He has paintings in the national gallery in Washington, DC. which is really just amazing. So this would be an example of a direct path [being a portrait painter.]
But you know, these skills apply to so many different jobs. I especially think [for example] the gaming industry is really expanding; It’s already huge and keeps on getting bigger. If you’re learning things like anatomy and proportion and rendering, that applies to when you want to design a realistic game character or something along those lines. You can also be an illustrator or something like that. The possibilities are truly endless.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I am really into the surrealist way of thinking where you are very much inspired by your subconscious. I actually have a dream journal and I try to do my best to wake up and write in it right away. I don’t try to overthink or like to explain what my dreams might mean. I just kind of like whatever imagery that came from that dream, and think that it would look interesting on paper.
I sometimes do things like automatic drawing where you just put your pencil and paper and just kind of let it go and see whatever happens. That is very inspiring to me as far as subject matter.
How are you able to push through road blocks as an artist?
The instructors at Studio Incamminati have covered this because we all struggle with writer’s block and artist’s block and I think the advice that I have heard most often time and time again, is to just get up in the morning, get yourself into the studio, and do it as practice. Every time you create something it doesn’t have to be the biggest inspiration, but as long as you’re continuing to hone in on your craft, then you will always be learning and growing.
It is really, really important to get into your studio or get into your classroom and just be present and to try your best. Another thing I would say is that taking breaks is really important. We often paint from the live models and they need to take breaks to regroup but it is also important for us, the artists, to take breaks too. Breaks refresh your eyes and allow you to come back to do good work.
What advice would you give to someone interested in this field but hesitant to pursue it?
When you see the instructors here and know that they are master painters, it can be daunting. But, the thing to remember is that this is a skill. It is something that you can start from chapter one on and continue building from. On top of that, learning from such great teachers just makes the process that much easier.
And as far as far as uncertainty and not knowing if you can do it, I read a really good quote once. I forget who said it, but they basically said “The artist is not born with the ability to paint the Mona Lisa, but they are born with the aesthetic, the eye.” I learned not to get discouraged along the way; You just need to practice, practice, practice to develop your craft.
Is your work mostly individual or do you still collaborate with other students?
We are working on our own canvases most of the time. We have a very small class setting, so in that way, it can be collaborative. We’ll go to each other’s easels and offer constructive criticisms on other students’ study. Half the day is actually instruction and the other half of the day is working on our own work. However, we are in a community you’re never just like floating out in the water all alone.
Where’s your end goal? Where do you see yourself after you are done here at Rowan?
After I complete the program, I’m thinking about sticking around. Studio Incamminati actually has a fellowship program that I am very interested in applying for and I believe it is geared towards educators. I’m going to definitely going to apply to that.
If my time here is over, I feel like it will be too soon. I am going to try and stick around in any capacity that I can. Beyond that, professionally I would love to be qualified enough to teach and I would love to have my own art practice. I would also love to work where I could continuously be submitting paintings to galleries.
How would you sell this major and concentration or overall experience to someone interested in the field?
By studying studio art at Rowan, you’re going to stand out because other art schools are not doing realism to the extent that we are. Through this experience at Rowan, we get incredible opportunities to work within the studio that seem like a rarity to students pursuing art at other schools in other programs.
I also think it is important that this field can allow you to pursue the obvious route, portrait painting, but you could very easily go into many different industries by studying this field. I think that this path basically is very skill driven. Once you decide to go this route, your portfolio is going to look very impressive and you can apply it to many different industries.
See our video with Hannah here:
Like what you see?
Natalie DePersia, senior public relations major