Lessons, 2003

This section contains the material compiled on a “Lessons” CD for Dick Nelson’s retrospective held at the Hui No `Eau Visual Arts Center in Makawao, Maui, Hawaii, in 2003.

In this website, teacher and painter Richard Nelson reveals information vital to visual discovery with the artist in each of us. Join him as he shares his decision-making process, his strategies and fascinating discoveries, and guides us to find our own creative paths.

A few pearls of Nelson’s wisdom along the way…

“Artists are problem solvers. They thrive on their ability to see, understand and visually render the realities of their external or internal world.”

“Knowledge of visual options serves the creative individual. Without knowledge of our options, we are simply prisoners of our own ignorance.”

“Individuals, creating personal and independent statements, follow a course they alone map.”

Nelson teaches us to ask the “Big Questions”: What was I trying to do? Did I do it? Was it worthwhile? How can I use what I have learned?

He also shares his understanding of art history, and pays tribute to his inspirational teacher Josef Albers, who said, “Our art instruction attempts first to teach the student in the widest sense: to open his eyes to the phenomena about him and, most important of all, to open his eyes to his own living, being and doing.”

In one of Dick Nelson’s favorite stories, a student of James McNeil Whistler tells the great artist, “I tend to paint what I see.” Whistler replies, “Ah! The shock will come when you see what you paint!”

Through his teaching, Nelson helps us to see what we paint.

This website includes more than 150 pages of handouts and written assignments used in Richard Nelson’s classes, but does not include his lectures or class demonstrations. Therefore the information will be most clear to Nelson’s former students. Still, anyone interested in art will find much to be gained—especially if he or she actually performs the assignments, honestly critiques the results, and applies what is learned. Even within the class structure, many students repeated assignments three or more times to fully comprehend and master the subject.

While no portion of this website may be reproduced for commercial use without permission, we encourage you to print copies of the lessons for your own use, and practice, practice, practice.