Virtual Art Academy
Virtual Art Academy Student's Second Major National Exhibition A Major Success 1

Virtual Art Academy Student’s Second Major National Exhibition A Major Success

Barry’s Virtual Art Academy student, Meng Qing Sheng, just held his second major national exhibition in Xian, China, home to the famous terracotta warriors. The exhibition was a tremendous success and attracted a lot of attention, with Meng selling 20 paintings during the exhibition.

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Meng Qing Sheng

The concepts of Visual Music & Poetry that is the core of the Virtual Art Academy Program, and Barry’s ideas around Abstract Realism is quite new to China. Rarely have they seen brushwork and color combined in this way before. The exhibition generated quite a lot of excitement in China.

“I think we are seeing here the germ of a new and exciting movement in China, where the focus is more on the artistic expressions of color and creative brushwork, and less on the mechanical rendering of every fine detail in a scene for the viewer.

This is contrary to the current widespread practice in China of working from photographs. Many contemporary artists in China follow a form of photorealism that started in America in the 60’s with artists such as Chuck Close, and Richard Estes“. Or they are copying the recent trend of Classical Realism that gained momentum in the late 1990’s. The Classical Realism style, as practiced by artists such as William-Adolphe Bouguereau, actually dates back to the mid 1800’s. The Classical Realism style can produces beautiful work for sure, but paintings created using that style often do not take advantage of a lot of the new knowledge and techniques of abstract design that were discovered in the 20th century. Principles for example such as flattening values and notan design, combined with unequal space division, and advanced and complex color harmony, as well as expressive brushwork.

21st Century Abstract Realism on the other hand (which I define in my Visual Poetry and Music model), is quite different from all these other movements. In fact I would argue that it is not even a style but a synthesis movement, bringing together knowledge from two ends of a continuum from abstraction to realism. It lets the artist choose where along the continuum they want to work, and use whatever technique or ‘style’ works for them. I strongly dislike the term ‘style’ because it pigeon holes an artist. Using the Visual Music & Poetry model as a guide, you can paint using whatever style you want.

To me it, 21st Century Abstract Realism represents an evolution, not a revolution, in painting. It combines 19th century traditional Academic knowledge with the newer ideas of design that were explored in the Modern Art and Abstract Expressionist movements of the 20th century in the West, to create more engaging work. Some of these abstract design ideas, most notably the concept of space division in picture design, were actually developed in the art of the East (in Japanese wood block prints) far earlier and subsequently copied by the French Impressionists in the late 19th century.

This new 21st Century Abstract Realism movement or should I call it ‘philosophy’?, also takes advantage of the body of knowledge of expressive brushwork that derives from traditional Chinese painting 国画. This is an art that is highly developed in China and Japan, and that has been developed over many centuries.

I am now starting to see small pockets of this new thinking break out around the world. There is a small pocket of exciting artists working in Moscow, plus a handful of artists in the USA, and Europe, as well as now China after my visits there these past ten years starting to explore these ideas.

This new philosophy, which relies to a greater extent on painting en plein air, rather than in the studio, and which combines both Eastern and Western traditions leaves room for the viewer’s imagination to bring his or her own experiences into the painting. Yet at the same time is does not lose the feeling of a place, as do earlier movements that employed expressive brushwork such as the mid 20th century Abstract Expressionist movement. Expressive brushwork, that you cannot achieve with highly blended paintings, adds a further dimension to the work that makes the work more exciting and vibrant when viewed up close compared with a more photorealist approaches.

For me this is a very exciting time in painting! Well done Meng! 加油!- “jah yo” – add gas/petrol in China – it means keep going faster! There is a lot of ground yet to cover, and there are a lot of entrenched ideas in the art world, so the way forward in painting using these ideas is sure to be a difficult road.

Barry John Raybould

Meng has been studying with Barry and the lessons in the Virtual Art Academy for four years now. He is a very hard worker, and credits his enthusiasm for painting to Barry’s ideas on concept and design, and his capacity for hard work.

Paintings by Meng Qing Sheng from the Xinjiang region of China.

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The VAA regularly receives emails from students who are thankful for Barry’s structured approach to teaching and more flexible approach to technique and style. Here are two emails we received this week:

After I had learned to copy religiously, I realized i needed to actually learn to paint. To be looser, to see, to think for myself,.. and that’s when I found you.  So to my delight I started working on your method.

The way you explained everything was so clear, and your examples illustrated beautifully what we could achieve,… while,..extraordinarily,.. you manage to avoid being pedantic about any particular style. !

So,… I started working on them. Thank you,.. for making it possible for me, and all the other who strive to enrich our lives with this skill keep learning.

🙏    Alison

I’d say the strength I see in your teaching is …- systematic, longterm, logically sequenced.

It is obviously designed for the seriously committed student.

Much of what is out there is quite haphazard and doesn’t stress the long discipline – early emphasis on the fundamental/ classical/foundational but moves toward principles that make room apply to a wide range of styles.

 – I’ve seen some that feature very likeable artists but narrow and unorganized teaching. Some that have very strong content and a great deal of material but are antiquated in presentation and access to lessons.

 – yours seems to combine the best of all into one well-organized, well-taught system that creates a very solid springboard to substantial work. 

Gary

 

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5 comments

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The equivalent of a 4 year art education at a fraction of the cost

This is a great course for anyone who is serious about improving their painting. I have been a student here for several years. When I am finished, I will have the equivalent of a 4 year art education at a fraction of the cost. I can do the lessons anywhere and at my own pace.… Read more “The equivalent of a 4 year art education at a fraction of the cost”

Susan Hood
‘Ladder of Learning’ adds to overall positive experience of this awesome course

The VAA course is built on four main building blocks including PROCESS, REALISM, MUSIC AND POETRY. These are further divided into topics that are continuously developed throughout the cirriculum. Drawing, Form, Observation, Colour, Brushwork, Notan, Composition and Poetry are all thoroughly taught. Working on-line we meet students from all around the world interacting with them… Read more “‘Ladder of Learning’ adds to overall positive experience of this awesome course”

Marlene Gardner
No need to buy expensive art books…. Just do the VAA 4 year course. I still refer to it

I finished the VAA course a few years ago, but always refer to the notes, rereading the course many times. This is not a course the day you are finished, you are done. No, you keep practising the assignments getting better and better over time. When I look back at my work when I had just… Read more “No need to buy expensive art books…. Just do the VAA 4 year course. I still refer to it”

Aurelia Sieberhagen
This is a far more superior school than anything I have seen being taught at colleges across the country

This is a far more superior school than anything I have seen being taught at colleges across the country and have learned much more from the Virtual Art Academy® than from any art course I have ever taken! I cannot begin to tell how the Virtual Art Academy has improved my observation of potential compositions… Read more “This is a far more superior school than anything I have seen being taught at colleges across the country”

Steve Jorde
Barry gave me a fishing rod so I can catch my own fish

After weeks and even months of searching YouTube, “googling” and spending a fortune on art instructional books I finally came across the Virtual Art Academy®. When it comes to purchasing online I am always very careful how I spend my money. Especially when I already spent a small fortune on art books. They always seemed… Read more “Barry gave me a fishing rod so I can catch my own fish”

Dagmara Zaręba
The most comprehensive, in depth and well-organized painting course available online

After a thorough research, my personal conclusion is that the Virtual Art Academy (VAA) is, by wide margin, the most comprehensive, in depth and well-organized painting course available in the internet. Unlike most tutorials and color mixing recipes commonly found online, VAA’s philosophy is rather to provide the students with detailed information about all aspects… Read more “The most comprehensive, in depth and well-organized painting course available online”

Bruno Villela
An excellent  foundation on so many aspects of painting

“I never had formal training in painting and my style has always been very realistic, slow and not at all artistic, just a copy of a photograph. When I got word of the course available through Virtual Art Academy, I was very excited for the opportunity to learn what I never knew about painting.  VAA… Read more “An excellent  foundation on so many aspects of painting”

Jeanne Strohmann
The small steps are easy to do

I am extremely impressed with the process that Barry has developed for VAA.  Learning to paint can be intimidating, but when broken into many small projects it is very do-able.  I just did my first live model painting session- a 5 hour, one day session.  Thanks to VAA, I was able to break the painting… Read more “The small steps are easy to do”

Kim Stepney