I wanted to take a minute and introduce myself, and answer the question you are most likely asking: “Who is Ethan Semmel?” Well, I’m actually a pretty normal guy. I’m a husband and father who always had an interest in artistic things.
I always liked to draw and when I took up painting in my teens, I received a set of acrylic paint as a gift. I dove in and started to use the set of paints and was so taken by painting that I had to research more about it and got very serious about it. I soon switched to oil paints and believe it or not, I started copying those tv painters. When I made some of those landscapes I thought I was hot stuff, but then as I got more into painting and the history of it, and made trips to the museum. I found out that I basically knew nothing.
and it was easy to see that the paintings I had been making was totally amateurish compared to those. I became even more serious about painting and enrolled in school for it. Eventually I took classes in the National Academy of Design in New York city. That was one of the oldest art schools in the country. It turned out that one of the most important things about the school was that it was right up the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And not too far away from the Frick Collection. Those museums captivated me and I spent hours there looking at the great works of art.
I was wrong. It wasn’t the fault of the teachers. Most of them were very nice people. But, the teaching that took place was virtually no different from other places I took classes. It was the “Here’s what you’re doing wrong” approach to teaching. In a nutshell, this way of teaching goes like this: You pick out your painting space in class for the next week, while the model comes to class and you work on your painting from your space until that modeling session is finished. Sometimes that was 1 week, sometimes 2 weeks. The teacher would come to class 2 days of the week and spend a little time at each persons painting to tell them what they were doing wrong. To put it bluntly, this way of teaching sucks.
If you took piano lessons or better yet…if you paid to have your child (assuming you have one) take piano lessons and the class went like this. Your child was given a sheet of music to play and they had to just start playing and 2 times a week the teacher would spend 10 minutes or so to tell them what they are doing wrong…would you think that was a good way for them to learn or would you cancel those lessons and want your money back? It’s not a good way to teach music and it’s not a good way to teach painting. Teaching is something you are either a natural at or you go to school to learn to do. The assumption that because someone can paint well that they can teach well is, in my experience, wrong.
My personality is such that I spent hours and hours…day in and day out…in the museums…reading old books on painting technique, doing experiments with paint….all to get the answers to the numerous questions I had about oil painting. I did this for years. In fact, I sometimes still do it today. I knew other painting students would be interested in this stuff as well. I must have had a knack for teaching because I was asked to teach privately by other students who were just as frustrated as I was at the methods of teaching they were getting. This expanded to self publishing my manuals on oil painting using the internet. My website grew and more people liked my style of teaching. I must have had some good information or presented it in a good way because even Artists Magazine contacted me to let me know my website had been chosen the website of the month by their respected publication.
To this day I continue to expand my oil painting instruction with the goal of helping other people to paint the way they always wanted to with easy to understand instruction. Hey, I never claim that anyone will be the next Rembrandt from following my instruction, but you can make good quality works of art by learning the craft of it from me. How far you go depends on your desire and what you have
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