Sunday, November 10, 2013

31 Days of Thanks Day 3 my years at Siena Heights

31 Days of Thanks Insight into who has influenced us, our art, and our business throughout the years.

I started school at Siena Heights College in 1969.

Many professors at Siena influenced me. David Savage, Sr Jeannine Klemm, Father David VanHorn, Teng Beng ChewSr Barbara Cervenka are the first to come to mind.

Before I start talking about each of them I have to say I had no idea that one day I would be married and be related to the president of the college, and have the same last name! Of course that happened more than 10 years after I started at Siena Heights. My husbands Aunt, Sr. Petronilla Francoeur, was the President of Siena when I started there and the Francoeur Theatre at Siena Heights is named in her honor.

Thinking about how the teachers I listed above influenced me -

David Savage
The things I remember most about David Savage are that he was very young, cute and cocky. He was doing wonderful graphic work and still does. The biggest influence from him was that yes you could make a living doing art. As I remember he didn't teach too long, he went on to a successful career in commercial art. 

Many teachers don't put that part into the equation. Yes you can be a fabulous artist but will you be able to support yourself from it if you don't teach? I knew early on that I am not a teacher - as I heard once - I am more a sponge than a fountain! So being able to sell my work was always something I kept in mind.

Sr Jeannine was probably the most influential of this group of teachers. She was the head of the art department and taught me drafting and calligraphy and gave me a lot of encouragement. At the time she was considered one of the
finest calligraphers in the country.

I didn't mention that it took me almost 10 years to get my degree because I worked full time and went to school part time after the first year. The good thing about that is, as I went along I knew more where I was going with my work so chose classes accordingly, and I didn't owe anyone any money when I was finished. I paid my student loans as I went. I see it costs $30,000 a year to go there now.

I wasn't going to go to the graduation ceremony - my education had been so drawn out - but Sr Jeannine convinced me to go and she gave me a standing ovation as I walked down the isle. It meant a lot.

The drafting became so important because  I learned to draw and fell in love with architecture. And if you come into Carolina Creations you'll see that I sell a lot of my calligraphy which I have combined with my paintings. Sr Jeannine did many of the examples for the early speed ball calligraphy books.

Teng Beng Chew taught painting and printmaking. I'll have to say I was not good at painting at all and he didn't mince any words telling me so. But printmaking was another story. I loved that and ended up doing a lot of silk screen printing, wood block, linoleum block and other forms. These are the pieces I first started taking to art shows with my friend Frances. Those along with pencil drawings.

Teng Beng Chew

Sr Barbara Cervenka taught drawing. 
Again I wasn't that great at it but learned under her tutelage. 

Father VanHorn had a different kind of influence. He was brilliant. He taught art history but I learned more about being a kind and caring human being from him. He was a potter but was allergic to clay so you always knew when he had been doing his own work, he would loose his voice!

All in all I got a good education there - I wasn't the most talented artist by any means but I went on to do much more with my work than most of my class mates.

Thank you Siena Heights! BTW there is another artist here in town that went there too at the same time! Funny because my graduating class was only 100, small world.

- Jan Francoeur
Day 4 of 31 Days of Thanks will publish at 11 am est on November 17 and I'll write about doing art shows throughout Michigan and what I learned from the crowds that came through.

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