May 2015

Miguel is a wonderful art professor. He is patient, personable, and kind-hearted. For example, he adopts stray cats and allows them to live in his studio. Enough said. He cares about every one of his students, and is invested in our improvement as painters. From an artistic standpoint, Miguel is highly qualified. He attended RISD for undergrad and the Columbia MFA program. Although he is a working artist, Miguel takes his job as a professor seriously. He brings hardcover books to class to teach us about a variety of artists. The way he is able to discuss art is unlike any Art History professor I've had. He brings an artist's eye, and a fascination with the personal backgrounds of artists, to his teaching. While touring MoMA as a class, Miguel illuminated the work of Rousseau, Picasso, Mondrian, Dali etc. by telling us historical anecdotes about their lives. Our class was able to visit the Met and MoMA, and even took the train out to Dia Beacon (a Minimalist sculpture garden about an hour outside of NYC) for a day. During the last class, we had the opportunity to tour Miguel's studio in Harlem. As Miguel led our class into his brick warehouse, two of his neighbors called out, "Miguel, you're a professor? Who knew?!" This interaction only confirms Miguel's humility. In his studio, we gaped at Miguel's surrealistic oil paintings and life-size sculptures of jungle animals. Not many art professors allow students to walk into their personal studios. By the end of the semester, our class felt like a family. We bonded over museum visits, mutual appreciation for Miguel, late nights in the studio, and lunch breaks. Take this class first and foremost if you want to learn how to paint, but don't be surprised if you make a few close friends along the way.

Nov 2014

If you want to learn how to paint in a technically proficient way, this class is not for you. If you're looking for a chill atmosphere where you are pushed to complete paintings because you have difficulty carving out time in your schedule to paint, go for it. The syllabus does provide suggestions, but Joan emphasizes that you're free to do what you want. One thing I wish I knew going in was that you're expected to purchase all of your own materials. This was the first painting class I've taken here, and I was surprised that the department doesn't at least provide you with canvases. The cost of it is pretty high if you don't intend on taking more art classes in the future, considering you'll have to spend over $100 or so for the basic oil paints and canvases. I guess I'm learning by doing, but there is basically no instruction given from the professor; she and her assistant make their rounds during the 4-hour block, but they stop and chat for no more than 10 minutes, tops. Outside work is definitely expected to finish everything by the end of the semester; she doesn't give deadlines besides that.

May 2011

Allison is an absolutely brilliant professor. I looked forward to having Figure Painting with her each week. Each class she would bring in a slide show of different artists work that related to the project that day. These slideshows were so fascinating and were more informative than a lot of my art history lectures. The different exercises we did throughout the course were fun, innovative, and most importantly effective in making us become better painters. I highly recommend that anyone remotely interested in studying the visual arts take Allison's class. It's so worth it!

Mar 2006

I took this course with Joan during my first semester at Barnard. It was fairly large for a painting class (maybe 18?) but a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere. That said--I'm not sure Joan learned more than one or two students' names during the entire semester. She definitely didn't know mine. She must have given every person in that class an A, though, because I got one and there's no way she could distinguish me from anyone else on paper. A nice enough woman, but she really didn't seem to care much for us beginning students.

May 2003

Hands down, Sissel Kardel is the best! Her passion for painting is infectious. The task is deceptively simple (learn to paint as you see), yet Sissel shows us that there's always something new to learn. She also has high expectations, which can be met with hard effort: we seriously copied Rembrandts within a month! Thoroughly introducing us to the art world, Sissel brought us to museums, galleries, and artists' studios. I can't think of a finer beginning experience with oil painting.

Jan 2000

I took his Painting 1 class and I basically found it to be like a high school painting class -- that is, still life in the middle of the room, which the class paints for six hours in silence. His teaching style does not foster class taking interest in one another's work, and the class was little more than an opportunity to "keep one's chops up," which (don't get me wrong) is valuable. His method is to put up a still life and then show the class paintings by masters from this century -- Matisse, Max Beckman, Edward Hopper--and talk to us about utilizing flat planes and patterns one week, using value and light to create space the next, etc. Nothing i hadn't heard before, but useful... I do mean "useful," though, and not "revelation-inducing." He does have one lecture, however, that he gives every semester which is very eye-opening. I think it is the method he uses in his own paintings (which are decently respected, even famous in certain circles). The idea has to do with time of day in a painting. He talks about how we are taught to organize color in terms of complimentary, primary, secondary, etc. He organizes them in terms of whether they are "natural", "pastel", "artificial," and demonstrates how certain combinations create a certain time of day. I had never heard anything like this before, it is his "thing," and gave me a lot to think about. He is a nice, charismatic guy, but nothing too spectacular (in other words, he's no Archie Rand!)