Joe De Reuil
MN State and County Fair Winners
Academy Teaches the Finer Points of Art
Students are learning how to draw on Summit Avenue by following the steps of the Masters
by Carol Nigrelli
James Robinson is passionate about art - and about stoking that passion in young people and adults. “I have yet to meet a kid who isn’t talented,” he said. “Every child can draw and paint well if they’re trained how to do it. I’m a fanatic about that.”
Some might chalk up such rhetoric as the natural thing for an art teacher to say. But one jaw dropping look around Robinson’s Art Academy dispels any doubts about his fanaticism. Robinson’s students practice what he preaches.
On long tables inside The Art Academy, which is located in the former Immaculate Heart of Mary School building at 1550 Summit Avenue, rest drawings and paintings of such detail, dimension and clarity that one would think the masters themselves had guided each child’s hand.
And, in a way, they did.
“Beginning students learn to draw by copying the work of famous painters,” said Robinson, a Como Park resident and the father of two sons. Robinson then whipped out three books of the earliest known drawings of Michelangelo, Picasso, and Rubens.
“Michelangelo copied from a well-known artist of his day when he was young, and Picasso and Rubens did the same thing,” he said, pointing to some not-so-remarkable pencil drawings. “Once they learned the basics, they developed their own style.”Robinson stresses technique and structure over creativity to his students for a reason: He was never taught how to draw as a child.
“When I was 5 years old, I was sitting in class drawing Noah’s Ark,” he recalled. “By the time I got to the second giraffe’s head, I just knew I wanted to be an artist.”
Proud Winner of
Best of the Twin Cities!
“Best Place to Make Like Rembrandt”
Art Academy graduates who have gone on to study art at a college level, many with competitive scholarships
Michelle Franz - Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, CT
Annie Nelson - Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA
Emily Tutelman - University of MN
Sarah Fowler - Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Erin Ries - Iowa State University
Isaac Mann - University of Iowa
Ellie Perendy - SUNY Purchase, NY
Nick Pitera - Ringling School of Art and Design, FL
Lester DiLorenzo - Art Center College of Design, CA
Isabelle McCormick - Rhode Island School of Design, RI
Kristin Ries - University of Wisconsin - River Falls
Alex Pederson - Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Emma Kimball - Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, CT
Kyle Caspers - Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, CT