Education

Rhode Island School of Design 'Art Prof' opens her classroom to you

Clara Lieu, adjunct professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, talks about still-life paintings. Her new website Art Prof, aims to increase access to visual arts education.
Clara Lieu, adjunct professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, talks about still-life paintings. Her new website Art Prof, aims to increase access to visual arts education.
Courtesy of Art Prof

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Back in 2013, visual artist Clara Lieu started writing an advice column for visual artists called “Ask the Art Professor." She thought maybe it would last for a few months and take on a handful of questions from college students studying visual art.

But "the questions kept coming," said Lieu, an adjunct professor at the renowned Rhode Island School of Design.

"I had people who were 12, in middle school, I had people who had just recently retired," she recalled. "It was incredible how many different kinds of people contacted me and I just realized there's this need for this."

To meet this demand and increase access to visual arts education, Lieu is launching a new site called Art Prof. She and a team of teaching artists provide video tutorials on drawing, printmaking and sculpture, critiques of artist submissions, professional development tools and even an encyclopedia of arts supplies. 

"A lot of artists tell me, ‘Well, I go to the art store and I have no idea what to get, because there’s 18 versions of charcoal, and which one’s better, and why?’ " said Lieu. "So there's a lot of information that I think is not accessible."

The free platform caters to all ages – from parents looking for advice for kids, high schoolers who don’t have access to arts classes at school and graduates and working artists looking for insight about how to market their work. 

Lieu and her design partner, Thomas Lerra, have already been providing some of this insight through a blog and crowdsourced funding last fall to launch a full site. 

One of the features is an Art Dare, where artists take on an assignment. This month's challenge is to do rapid fire drawings for a series of word prompts. Artists can post their artwork on Twitter and Instagram using #Artprofdare and selected winners receive prizes.

And there's an element of outreach towards primary and secondary school arts educators: Middle and high school art teachers can post class submissions for a chance to receive class video critiques.