Art Prof LIVES!!!!


I had no idea when I wrote a blog post back in October 2014 about an idea that floated through my head for a few minutes that I would be here today. Our Kickstarter campaign was a real nail biter…. but we hit our goal this morning!!!

I am overwhelmed with the phenomenal support and enthusiasm that my partner Thomas Lerra and I, and our extraordinary staff of Teaching Assistants and Interns experienced over the past several weeks. We were all blown away by the amazing support we received from people from all different parts of our lives, it was truly incredible to see the way people came out to support us.  I was surprised by the large number of people who I have never met in person before, or people who I barely knew, but who went out of their way to help us! Running a campaign like this was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, (this coming from someone who usually salivates at the idea of a challenge)  but with the outcome we had, I have renewed faith in the universe. Knowing how intensely skeptical I generally am about everything, that says a lot.

It will take me many hours at my laptop to properly thank everyone who helped us, and that will all come over the next few weeks.  For now, I have to express my immense gratitude to my exceptional staff, who are seriously my favorite group of people I have ever worked with.


Anna   Makoto   Annelise   Enrico   Julia
crit_Vuthy   Tatiana Florival, Intern   Olivia Hunter, Intern   Jordan McCracken-Foster, Intern   Janice
Julia Orenstein • Vuthy LayTatiana Florival
Anna Campbell• Makoto Kumasaka• Annelise Yee• Enrico Giori

Olivia HunterJordan McCracken-Foster Janice Chun

I would like to thank all of our Interns, who joined Art Prof this summer by basically diving into an ocean in the pitch dark, (metaphorically) who bailed me out when there were more than a few fires to put out, who pointed out every stupid mistake I made, (of which there were many) who inspired me with their innovative ideas, and who made me feel way older than I would like to feel by explaining to me how Snapchat worked.

Teaching Assistants

square_Sara   square_Casey   square_Anniesquare_Lauryn   square_yves   square_Alex
Sara BloemCasey Roonan  •  Annie Irwin
Lauryn Welch •  Yves-Olivier Mandereau  •  Alex Rowe

When I first contacted our Teaching Assistants over a year ago, I am sure that they had absolutely no idea what they were getting into when they said yes to my email-I didn’t either at the time. Thank goodness they were all crazy enough to jump on board, or Art Prof would not be what it is today. I had no idea what a tremendous role the TAs would play a year ago, but as Art Prof grew, I realized more and more how critical the TAs were to Art Prof.  Example: I KNOW I am not the reason someone told me recently that Art Prof looks so “youthful.”

Beyond looks though, I am completely floored by the unwavering commitment of our TAs. Their enthusiasm, energy, and drive truly gave Art Prof the electrifying fuel we needed to take off.  The TAs brought diverse voices and opinions to the table.  We discussed everything from the most minute concern to the deepest fundamental premise of Art Prof. They were just as good at discussing what precise shade of yellow the top menu bar on the prototype should be, to talking about fundamental philosophical questions concerning Art Prof’s mission and goals. The TAs put up with my constant questioning, pushing, and yes, my occasional whining (okay, maybe it was more than occasional) with a smile and warmth. The balance of camaraderie, seriousness, motivation, sense of humor, and sarcasm (a requirement if you want to work with me) is one I believe will never exist anywhere else, at any other time.


Thomas Lerra

I am still in utter disbelief that I ever found Thomas Lerra, my partner in crime. It took three degrees of separation and many months of searching and waiting in agony for me to find him, but boy, was it worth the wait. I like to joke that Tom and I were “dating” for several months before we made Art Prof official.  In our early meetings that go all the way back to February 2015, I kept thinking after every meeting, that our meeting that day would be our last.  But it never was, and so here we are today, jumping off the cliff every day with each other.

I hear many people talk big about taking risks, but so few actually take concrete actions to make things happen.   Tom is one of the rare people I know who really does relish experimentation and risk, and I love the dynamic quality of our conversations, where we push and pull together at the task at hand. Having been micro-managed in the past by more than a few people at various jobs, I cannot express how immensely appreciative of I am of Tom’s trust in me as a teacher and professional. I know how lucky I am!  If it weren’t for Tom, Art Prof would not exist.


Alex Hart

Finally, there is one person who has logged more uncredited hours on Art Prof than probably anyone else in the history of video production.  My husband, Alex Hart, who was always hidden behind the scenes, where his labor was seen by none.  Alex saw the bloodiest side of Art Prof, that I never let anyone else see.

Alex was there at 3am when I was panicking because I couldn’t figure out how to do the sound mix in Premiere.  He threw together a film shoot on 2 weeks notice to create my “audition” tape to show Tom. He sat patiently and watched me fall on my face left and right trying to learn Premiere. He fixed tiny glitches in the prototype. He scrounged up equipment, consulted on every piece of hardware and supply I needed for video shoots. He has been practically a single parent for the past 2 months; and altered his schedule on a moment’s notice on several occasions when video shoots ran far past when they should have.  (there’s even a story of him forgetting that he didn’t have a car, and ended up strapping 2 kids’ bikes to his bike and then rode a mile like that to my kids’ school) He was there to calm me down when I had meltdowns, when I was convinced that Art Prof was going nowhere, and when I needed to vent for hours on end.  Through all of that, Alex kept telling me that he believed in me.

All of this, which for most people would be grounds for divorce within 48 hours.  And hardly a single complaint the whole time through. Thank you Alex, for believing in us.

I’ll leave you with our second preview video, which I will admit makes me just a little choked up every time I watch it.

Just $823 Away From our $30k Goal!


ART PROF is 97% funded! All we need is $823 to hit our $30k goal!
Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform; if we don’t hit our goal, we get no funding.

Our campaign ends TOMORROW, July 19 at 11:59pm EST.


Your Donation, Doubled!

For the 2nd time, our anonymous donor is offering to match all donations between today and July 18 for up to $2000! If you donate by July 18, your donation is doubled!!

Our campaign ends Tues., July 19.  We are $5300 from our goal. If we can get $3300 from you + our donor’s $2000, ART PROF is going to HAPPEN!!!!


donor - Copy

Free Art Critique Events at Boston Dick Blick Stores this Weekend!

Saturday, July 16, 2-4pm

Bring up to two pieces of artwork to get an individual review from one of the ART PROF staff:  Casey Roonan, Leyla Faye, and Clara Lieu. Free and open to all skill levels. Pre-registration is highly recommended.

Register here!

Blick Boston Landmark
401 Park Drive, Landmark Center-Fenway
Boston, MA, 02215
(617) 247-3322

Questions?  Contact us.

Sunday, July 17, 2-4pm

Bring up to two pieces of artwork to get an individual review from one of the ART PROF staff: Lauryn Welch, Casey Roonan, and Clara Lieu. Free and open to all skill levels. Pre-registration is highly recommended.

Register here!

Blick Cambridge
619 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA, 02139
(617) 441-6360

Questions?  Contact us.

Stay tuned by subscribing to our email list.


We recently hosted a Free Art Porfolio Review Event for artists of all ages at the Concord Center for the Visual Arts on Sunday, June 19. See videos, photos and read about this event here.

Don’t live near Boston?
Check out our crit quickies, audio critique packsportfolio video critiques & Ask the Art Prof

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ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Help us make ART PROF free and accessible for all! Donate to our Kickstarter campaign before July 19!

ART PROF Teaching Assistant: Annie Irwin


I knew what ART PROF Teaching Assistant Annie Irwin was all about before she even spoke a word to me. On the first day of my RISD freshman drawing class back in the fall of 2011, we reviewed the course materials for about 20 minutes, I gave the students a 15 minute break, and then we got started drawing right away with various kinds of lithographic crayons. One thing I do when I teach drawing is I spend time watching students’ movements as they draw:  their movements can often times reveal to me just as much about their skill set as looking at the drawing itself.

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I vividly remember the incredible conviction I saw in Annie’s face that first day of drawing class.  Her movements as she drew were sharp and energetic, and she handled the drawing materials with a confidence that I don’t see very often from a freshman on the first day of class in the fall semester. I could tell immediately how intense and fully engaged she was.  Annie had a highly focused gaze on the model, and her assertiveness with her drawing skills was truly incredible.


Annie was truly a force of nature- she’s one of those students who is so amazing that as the professor, I feel like all I have to do is make sure I get out of her way when she takes off like a rocket. Students like Annie make you feel, as the professor, that you don’t have to lift a finger to help them. Below is Annie’s final project from my drawing class, she constructed a diorama which had giant clumps of twine layered like a jungle. She drew her piece by drawing from direction observation of this diorama using charcoal on a 4′ x 4′ sheet of canvas.  To this day, her final project still resonates with tremendous expression and emotion combined with a masterful command of the drawing material.

Annie Irwin, charcoal drawing on canvas

When you find a fabulous TA, you hold onto them for dear life!  Annie was my TA for several semesters afterwards, and we managed to squeeze in an independent study somewhere.  We caught up one last time on campus before graduation came along in 2015. Let’s hear from Annie about her journey so far:

“I live in California and recently completed a position as a silkscreen apprentice at the Fabric Workshop and Museum. My BFA is from the Rhode Island School of Design in Textiles. I have experience in fashion print design, an award-winning upholstery fabric, an undying love for art, and a bizarre drive to construct and embroider sock animals.

This all started when I was 11 years old.  I was sitting at the car wash with my parents and found a magazine in the waiting room. When I came across images of wild paintings and crazy fashion designs, I was hooked and decided to read the article, which talked about the wonders of an art school in Rhode Island. I knew that this was the college for me but, being only 11 years old, I was too young to apply. Instead, I drafted a handwritten letter and made a pathetic attempt at copying Vincent van Gogh’s Portrait of Eugène Boch in acrylic paint and a lame pencil drawing of a horse floating on a blank page. I sent the letter and artwork to the RISD admissions office.


I was nervous and excited when I saw the envelope with RISD’s return address. The letter told me that the best way to assemble a great application was to remain passionate and practice drawing from life every day. This advice stayed with me throughout school and remains with me today. I was lucky to have amazing teachers and a solid art department to help me through the awful time that was high school. I ran into a wall when my art teachers told me that my technique was good but my ideas were not fully developed. That’s when I learned that art-making is equal parts concept and technique; it’s a skill in itself that takes practice and effort.”

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

Portfolio Review Event at Concord Art

RISD Adjunct Professor Clara Lieu reviews drawings by Janet Schwartz

This past Sunday, half of the ART PROF team hosted our first free portfolio review event at the Concord Center for Visual Arts in Concord, MA.  We invited artists in the Boston area to sign up for several 15 minute long individual reviews with myself, ART PROF Teaching Assistants Lauryn Welch, Casey Roonan, and Sara Bloem.  My colleagues Wendy Seller and Cynthia Katz were reviewers as well.  The event lasted four hours, so this gave artists the opportunity to get up to 6 reviews from multiple reviewers.  Unless you’re enrolled in a degree program, the opportunity to get feedback on your artwork from several professional artists and professors in one day for free is extremely rare.


Art Prof Teaching Assistant Lauryn Welch speaks to artist Steven Foote about his paintings.

In my career, I’ve been to several portfolio review events, both as an artist and as a reviewer. One aspect I like about this format is that you get individualized attention from a single reviewer, and the room is generally busy enough that no one feels that they are on the spot. We were very pleased with the atmosphere!

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We were impressed by the range of artists who came to our event:  we saw large oil paintings, watercolor paintings, pastel drawings, scratch board drawings, perspective drawings, and much more.

We were all pretty wiped out after critiquing for pretty much 4 hours straight, but we were all thrilled with the event.  We did registration online, and the day of the event we still had 40% of our slots open.  Many people added extra slots the day of the event, which was terrific because those additional slots filled our schedules.  The event was busy, and seemed to keep moving the whole time.

We also had a terrific team of assistants:  Britt Sodersjerna, Alex Fyock, Jack Carbeck, and Olivia Hunter who did everything from shoot photos and video of the event, helping participants find their schedules, and giving us feedback on how we could improve similar events in the future.  Speaking of future events, we are planning two more similar events in mid July in Boston!  If you’d like to be notified of these events, sign up for our email list.


Art Prof Teaching Assistant Casey Roonan discusses Monika Hedman’s scratchboard pieces. Monika had a series of 12 scratch board drawings, which incorporated mixed media as well.  We were hugely impressed by Monika’s composition skills, a skill that is frequently overlooked or simply not addressed by many artists. She had an enormous range of media in her portfolio:  paintings, drawings, mixed media pieces, and a sketchbook packed with images and writing.

Many participants were glowing with a renewed enthusiasm and motivation for their work.  We heard some terrific comments both during and after the event through emails.

“You and your team were amazing! I feel blessed to have been part of this day.”
“I found our portfolio review very helpful in fine-tuning the direction with my work.”
“Both portfolio reviewers my husband and I talked to were encouraging and helpful.”


RISD Adjunct Professor Clara Lieu reviews paintings and drawings by Jennifer Behymer.

Afterwards, our team went out for an early dinner, amazed that this was the first time since ART PROF started in 2014 that we had all been together in person.  For many of us, it have been many years since we had seen each other, even though we communicate almost everyday online to work on ART PROF.  I think this event was important for our team not just in terms of the event, but in terms of finally getting to see each other in person. While we discuss online nitty gritty details like what color the top menu bar in the prototype should be, together in person, we were able to have deeper discussions and talk about the big picture of ART PROF.

I’ve worked with many groups of people in the past, and I have to say this truly is an extraordinary team of people who I not only love working with, but who are super fun. There was plenty of teasing, and reminiscing about the good old days in my freshman drawing class over 6 years ago.  And yes,  I realize that I’m probably extremely biased because I’m the one who assembled this team, but I’m constantly in awe of how we balance brutal honesty and flexibility at the same time.  I love that we are able to have intense, emotional discussions about being artists, but that we can also tease each other mercilessly about the silliest things like the Bachlorette. (sorry, inside joke!)

This team has gone above and beyond my wildest expectations when I first started ART PROF two years ago.  I’m still in disbelief that Sara, Lauryn, and Casey were crazy enough to say yes to that email I sent them over a year ago.

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We missed the rest of our team, Annie Irwin, Yves-Olivier Mandereauves-Olivier Mandereau, and Alex Rowe, who live as far away as California, Colorado, and Germany.   We hope some day, all of us can be in one place, and that we can devote all of our time towards bringing you a rigorous art education for free, all the time. Help us make ART PROF a reality, and consider a donation to our Kickstarter campaign before it ends on July 19!

Art Hacks!

For the rest of our Kickstarter campaign, we’ll keep creating new video content to give you a small preview of what ART PROF will be like if we get fully funded! One of my favorite things about being a professor at an art school is the great tips and shortcuts that artists invent totally on the fly in order to make a project cooperate, or when they’re stuck at the airport with only napkins to draw on. Sometimes, as an artist, you’ll find yourself willing to do just about anything to make your work happen!

Today, hear from our Teaching Assistant Lauryn Welch above about why “hygiene” is important for artists.  Find out from Intern Janice Chun why you might want to skip that $100 light board purchase if you need to create animation on a budget!

Consider donating to our Kickstarter campaign and help us bring ART PROF: Visual Art Essentials with Clara Lieu  to people of all ages who want and need art education, but who have no means of access. Our prototype is finished, so our final step is to raise funds to make ART PROF free for all! Even the smallest donations add up. And if you can’t donate, please share our Kickstarter campaign!