Alumni Profile: Benjamin Anderson

posted on June 10, 2021 by

We're thrilled to introduce our newest Alumni Profile of Benjamin Anderson! Benjamin is a multi-talented oil painter, printmaker, sculptor, author, and arts educator, and was just recently accepted into the Carmel Art Association!! Check out his stunning paintings on his website here or also at Congratulations, Ben!!!

Years at YAC?

I joined YAC when I was 14, and was a YACster until I was 19.  It was the first real art experience I could be part of in my own way.  Some of my happiest memories of my teenhood are from YAC, and in fact making art at YAC is one of the highlights of my life.  I want to emphasize the importance of how Meg and Marcia mentored and directed the program, through a very open and sensitive way.  They enabled a positive environment for young artists like me to build technique, focus, and passion for the Fine Arts at a professional level.  Most importantly, YAC was a place where I could be free to create.  I have severe dyslexia, and YAC culture is very cohesive with the creative realm of the brain.  I created most of my children's book at YAC, The Musical Knights of Dundee, which was fully funded via Kickstarter.  Mentors of YAC are mentioned in the book, and I will say it again; thank you for all you have done.

Did you go to college? And if so, where?

I am a strong believer that the best artwork comes from the heart.  My selection of works that I chose for my college portfolio were from YAC.  The work was created in a free spirited, fun, and colorful environment.  This translated to my success in getting into the school of my choice for the Fine Arts; Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU).  I will never forget when the chair of the Fine Arts Dept. inspected my favorite piece from my YAC portfolio.  It was a life changing experience, and the spirit of YAC flowed through.  I received scholarship, and it was a huge privildge to attend OWU, where I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree in painting and printmaking.  I studied under some of the nation's top professors in art history, printmaking, sculpture, and most of all; oil painting.

Did you learn elsewhere? Where and how?

After achieving my B.F.A. from OWU, I became a volunteer workshop assistant for figure sessions at the Pacific Grove Art Center.  It was here that I found master painters to paint alongside with, and learn from. It was also the place where I had my first solo exhibition outside of the university world, and received an artist grant from the Monterey Arts Council to help fund the show.  After this, I went to graduate school at Bowling Green State University, OH, for my Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) terminal degree.  I was selected as the TA for the painting class, from which I received an award, and earned my degree being mentored by some of the most competitive academic artists in the nation.  

Tell us about what you’re doing now.

After graduating with my M.F.A., I taught workshops and painting classes through several organizations, and began focusing on how to help others pursue their work.  Much of my drive to teach and help learners of all ages is attributed to how I was helped and nurtured at YAC from an early age.  Do Art Be Kind is the YAC motto, and this has always stayed with me in any and all teaching interactions I have with my students to this day.  Kindness yields strength and support for learners, and especially those who have learning differences. As part of my teaching practice, I exhibit my professional work and am now an Artist Member of the historical Carmel Art Association.

What has inspired you along the way?

My inspiration comes from what I started with at YAC; landscape, trees, and yes - I'm still a fan of knights and dragons.  As part of developing portfolio work based in Carmel, I travel to my childhood home in Vermont to paint the winterscapes. This enables me to explore more seasonal shifts in my favorite subject; landscape painting.  What I learn through these expeditions ends being shared with others as I teach.  This is in hopes of a brighter future for all artists who seek to fine tune their skills and understand oil painting.

Favorite YAC memories?

My favorite memories of YAC consist of all the fun and funny moments talking to Meg and Marcia.  They always made me smile, and accepted me for who I was.  I remember Meg advising me how to handle commission work in a professional manner, and Marcia teaching me about her illustrated book process.  No words can truly express the timeless moments I had at YAC, as it was combined with a healthy amount of learning, doing, being, creating, and telling funny jokes.

A mention about the value of YAC?

YAC is the most important organization for young artists I have known.  It is the apex of what being young and creative is all about.  I wish every student and creator in the arts had the opportunity to be part of this special place.

Here is list of why:

*YAC offers headspace to be creative.

*YAC offers a positive environment to explore personal expression not only through art, but through social interactions.  This is vital to the aspiring entrepreneur artist.

*YAC offers incredible feedback on any and all portfolios that students use for attending college, and competition shows.

*YAC offers a realistic, profesional, positive environment for exhibiting artwork.  This is paramount for any young artist wishing to learn about exhibition standards and framing.

*YAC offers workshops, guest artist talks, and one on one mentoring.  

In short, I am forever and always a YACster.  Thank you so much to Meg and Marcia for helping shape my career, and being part of the journey.  

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