I came to be involved with Fashion in my early teaching days at Newbury College. I was teaching basic Design classes such as Color Theory and Basic 2D/3D Design. The Dean at the time called me into his office and told me he needed a teacher for Fashion Drawing Classes and Figure Drawing for Fashion Designers. “You can do this,” he said as he kept layering books in my arms, one on top of the other. “Go study up.”
“But, I don’t know anything on this subject” had no meaning to him.
I did go home and study, and I became hooked. I worked with students who were great at making clothes but needed a lot of help understanding the human form. They needed help in understanding different gestural ways to draw and put their own signature on their designs.
I invented my own tools for teaching “croquis “or fashion figures based on measurement. I went on to teach in many college programs courses in Fashion Industry, Figure Drawing for Fashion Students, Men’s Wear, Children’s Wear. Fashion Sketching, and Portfolio Design to name a few.
The great fashion designer, like great artists derive their inspiration from many sources, such as nature, famous art, music, architecture or popular culture. They create wearable art that is for everyday wear or the runway. Our great art museums have caught on to the beauty and power, which is Fashion, by exhibitions that show the parallels of fashion and art.
It is with this knowledge that I have prepared our Fashion Classes at my school. These are not just sewing classes. They are not just Fashion Illustration classes. We seek to instill in our students what it takes to create their unique designs and style. Projects that challenge their conceptual thinking are used, while keeping them focused on becoming as technically proficient in their sewing skills. As Mimi, my Fashion Sewing teacher says, “Do you want Wal-Mart, or Vera Wang!”
To tell you about The House of Colors is to tell you about my beginnings as an artist. When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I began studying at the Whedon School of Art in Port Washington, New York. Aida and Dan Whedon ran the school. Aida taught drawing and painting, while Dan taught ceramics and sculpture. When Aida was in her sixties she studied printmaking. She taught us kids the intaglio etching technique, which she learned herself. Our studio was one of the cleanest studios I ever worked in. This was her insistence on us respecting our tools and the space we used.
The creative spirit of this husband and wife team stayed with me long after I left them to go to college at Tyler School of Art. They took great pride in this. Little did I know that after years of teaching, I would create a school based on their model.
I have been blessed to have great teachers in my life from a young age.
In addition to the Whedons, I studied under Romas Viesulas, a well-known Printmaker who taught at Tyler. After completing my BFA under Romas’s tutelage, I went on to work for Ruth Leaf as her edition printer and assistant teacher. I soon learned that Ruth and Romas had studied together in New York. Aida had studied printmaking with Ruth Leaf. I met Ruth when I was a teenager and wanted to print during the summer that Aida and Dan were away. Aida convinced Ruth to let me work at her studio, which was just for adults. At the time, I didn’t realize how important these influences would be for my life as an artist. I understand now that we do not create in a vacuum. It is the input of our teachers, peers, other artists who have come before that we are connected to. The most important quality of visual art is to learn how to see.