The new art academy will take you where you want to go – Post Bulletin

Joseph Alexander is eager to replace the oil paintings that line the dark blue walls of Driftless Art Academy.

The paintings, which range from large portraits to a small tableau of an animated character on the back, are masterful, but Alexandre hopes to interchange them with the work of his own students.

Driftless Art Academy on Thursday, August 19, 2021, located at 1300 Salem Rd SW Suite #450 in Rochester. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Alexander recently opened the Driftless Art Academy in South Rochester to offer classes in realistic oil painting. The school teaches the curriculum of Alexander’s own mentor, Kevin Murphy, with the aim of training anyone who wants to take up a brush to the highest level of expertise they would like to achieve.

“The way I approached teaching is that if you are interested in painting, I can make you a professional artist, or at least a professional level artist, even if you only want to do it as a hobby. time”, Alexander mentioned. “Not every artist who ever was was born with a brush in their hand.”

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Although he describes himself as a third-generation oil painter, Alexander only started painting about 10 years ago, when he realized: “There is no magical thing is going to happen, and all of a sudden you’re going to be granted whatever great thing you want to do in life.

He began to study oil painting on his own, then with a teacher in the Twin Cities. Then he met Murphy.

“Kevin taught me more in an hour than I had learned in the previous 10 years, and so it’s been a pretty good relationship ever since,” Alexander said. “Kevin has taken me from an amateur artist who dabbles and says, ‘I’ll see if this paint turns out,’ to someone who paints reliably on a professional level.”

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Joseph Alexander paints at his studio, Driftless Art Academy, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in Rochester. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

A few years ago, Murphy approached a few of his top students — including Alexander — with the offer to help establish art schools based on his own in New Jersey. Initially skeptical, Alexander saw that the pieces were beginning to fall into place. Now he is a teacher.

Teaching and passing on skills is something Alexandre loves. At Driftless, he will work with each student at their own pace. Its goal is to give those interested in the arts in Rochester a place to develop their skills to their full potential.

That way they can make their skills “what they choose, rather than what their situation chooses for them”, he said, whether it’s working on a portfolio for applications for art schools or painting as a hobby.

Next summer, Driftless plans to run crash courses with five-hour sessions, rather than the regular two-and-a-half-hour adult classes, for those who want to hone their skills more seriously. He also offers courses suitable for children, with shorter sessions and working in pastel until they are ready to switch to oil medium and longer sessions.

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A commissioned portrait of Thomas Jackson, former Grand Master Mason of Minnesota, painted by Joseph Alexander. Contribution / Joseph Alexander

The secret to painting like an expert, Alexander said, is to have fun and immerse yourself in the making process, rather than just the final product.

“I think a lot of things we tackle in life, we want the end product, but are we ready to do what’s in between?” he said. “It’s what we have to fall in love with, what we do every day. And for me, it’s making paintings.

Mildred D. Field