Arlene Weinstock knew what she wanted to be in the 7th grade – an art teacher – but it took her 30 years to fulfill that ambition. Weinstock, an award-winning artist who has taught Colored Pencil Techniques at SMC Community Ed for eight years, took a circuitous route to the classroom.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Weinstock pursued art by earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Boston University. But upon graduation, she was unable to find work as an art teacher and embarked on a three-decades career in corporate America – in sales, marketing, design, product development and IT. Eventually, she learned programming for creating websites and started her own business. All the while she was creating art on the side.
In the early 1990s, she took Colored Pencil classes and has specialized in that medium, as well as mixed media, since then.
She earned Signature and experimental Signature honors from the Colored Pencil Society of America. She shows her work locally and has been juried into national and international art exhibitions. Her piece February is published in “The Best of Colored Pencil 4” and January Dusk is published in “Colored Pencil Signature.” Known for her colored pencil landscapes, she is also an accomplished pet portraitist and photographer.
What do you like about teaching Colored Pencil Techniques at SMC Community Education?
I am energized by the students. Adults who come to art class are enthusiastic and want to learn. Each person comes with a unique level of experience and innate skill. I get to see colored pencil beginners get more comfortable with the medium and begin to create work using their newly developed skills. This allows me to work individually to help each student discover his or her direction. Continuing students are welcome to return to the class and work on projects of their own choosing. I provide individual guidance for these students as they work to create finished art.
What kinds of students do you get at SMC Community Ed?
My students have ranged in age from 18 to 93. I’ve learned that these adult students are interested in learning how to make artwork, not just have a good time playing with art materials. By teaching techniques for using the colored pencils, my focus is on developing skills with the medium, not on creating finished artwork – the students do that on their own at home. This leaves lots of room for experimenting and making mistakes (the only way to learn anything is to make mistakes). As adults we get in the habit of trying to get things right, but watching a student push through the need to get things right and just try (make a mess, do it wrong) is great fun for me.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Really this is too hard to answer. Here are a few:
Leonardo for breaking all the rules and showing how to paint what he really saw.
Turner, especially his later works.
Manet for his sense of design.
Monet for his willingness to push through to get to the pure color in his sight.
Van Gogh, Bernard, Villiard and other Post-Impressionists.
Hopper for the quiet emotionality (and composition, color and draftsmanship).
Rothko for his color, of course.
What is your idea of a perfect day?
A day without a disaster.
What is one of the best compliments you ever received?
A friend once said of me that I drive like I’m trying to get to where I’m going.
What was the last picture you took with your phone?
The intense color of a tree with yellow leaves against a blue sky
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I did the AIDS Ride two years in a row. It changed my life.
What books are on your nightstand?
Here are some recent reads I really enjoyed:
“Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind” by Harari
“The Judgement of Paris” by Ross King
“The Marriage of Opposites” by Alice Hoffman
Is there anything you would like to add?
My classes are serious investigations into how to make art. An introduction into color theory is part of the class. Students also experience how to look at artwork and make judgments about what works and what doesn’t. We have fun and we do serious work. It is best to have some drawing experience before taking the class.