Mitchell Hill Price, from cowboy to artist
There is nothing more inspiring than a life story with resolutions. Knowing that there are people out there who are investing in their passion, following their intuition and betting for a life full of creativity is utterly motivating.
We invite you to enjoy this beautiful story written especially for TIAC by Mitch, who we have the pleasure to collaborate with having him as the ecorchè teacher.
We are extremely proud of having passionate and professional artists working with us!
My name is Mitchell Hill Price, and I am a painter, sculptor, draftsman, and teacher of same.
I come from the United States, but I mostly grew up in Western Colorado and Northern New York State. As a young child, I spent my formative years on a horse and cattle ranch and was, very literally, a cowboy. Now when I am back I spend my time on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, but most of the time these days I am a resident of Florence Italy.
I began to study art because I was already compelled to make it. During high school, my art class was the most pleasant and therapeutic time I had, and I continued to draw and sketch and work as I wanted to. Sometimes I went long periods of inactivity, but others I became completely and utterly focused on some idea that came out of nowhere.
After I graduated from college, which was in the middle of the American financial crisis, I managed to get several commissions for some murals. Since I had not studied art in college I was surprised but also delighted and I began to drive around the country and work as an artist.
I have had a great number of jobs over the course of my life but nothing felt anywhere near as good and correct and right as working on those murals. The idea that I was to be paid for this work seemed to me almost unbelievable, which is an attitude which probably costs me when it comes time to negotiate prices now. I decided to move to South America for a period after completing these projects and see what life was like in a new and foreign land.
During that time I learned many things, but foremost amongst them was that I was compulsively drawing and studying the environment around me. I was living in Buenos Aires and was doing practically nothing besides studying Spanish, walking around, and drawing. After a couple of months, I moved to an apartment that was between the National Art Museum and their “national” cemetery, which was just row after row of epic figurative sculpture done in bronze and marble, by Italian sculptors. Between my time in the cemetery and the museum I had filled several sketchbooks and made up my mind: I was going to apply to an art school I had found in Italy and proceeded to do so.
I moved to Florence, Italy about eight months later, and began studying at the Florence Academy of Art. I studied for three years, became a teacher, and in my own mind, I am still very much a student of the craft of drawing, painting, and sculpture. I feel that more than anything I am continuing to learn and grow as both an artist, but also as a student of an art form that has tremendous depth and complexity. Every time I begin to feel comfortable with one technique or approach it raises questions about what comes next, or how can this lesson be applied elsewhere.
Recently I have been focusing more on the role of subject, and how the presentation of a series of objects or beings can change one's reaction to said objects depending on the most subtle decision on the part of the artist. How does the small technical thing I am learning now help me to make decisions that will better communicate or describe the subject I have in mind? I often feel that I am juggling a dozen technical questions at the same time while trying to understand what it is about a subject that is appealing.
In many respects my art is a reaction to the world around me in a very direct way, i.e. I see something or situation; I become interested; I draw or paint it. The things and ideas which interest me the most I believe are only now starting to sink into the way I am choosing subjects and presenting them. Hopefully, any questions about my inspirations will be answered in the goodness of time by my own future works.
I feel that it is imperative for serious art students, be they aspiring artists, enthusiasts, collectors, sellers, historians, or conservators, should have a background in the fundamentals of drawing, painting, and sculpture. I say this because the subject of how to convey the illusion of reality in two dimensions (drawing and painting) or in three (sculpture) is a serious and difficult intellectual pursuit in its own right, and is one of humanities oldest pastimes.
The humble elegance of learning to observe, interpret, and recreate is a small and patient activity which is practically mundane. It’s an act in which quiet and unbiased observation is most of the activity. It can be boring, and that’s why I think it gets passed over, or, as I suspect is as much or more the case, it can be hard to find a teacher these days. As a child of rural mountain America, artists were strange and somewhat ignoble creatures who I did not understand. I still don’t know if I understand, which is why I try and keep my eyes open and hope to learn something here and there.
Mitchell Hill Price