DENVER (CBS4) – For 25 years the Art Students League of Denver has offered a place for aspiring artists to gather and learn.
“We really nurture artists and help them become whatever type of artists they want to be,” is how Kim McCarty with the league described its mission.
“It’s more than just taking the class, it’s the support of the community,” McCarty explained. “We give students their first chance to hang in an exhibit.”
Gwen Ehrlich agrees the sense of community offers lessons and inspiration she would not find on her own.
“When you come here you’re around fellow artists and you can watch their techniques, how they use paint, the different kinds of images they use to paint and you get ideas from just being around other people,” Ehrlich said.
It’s providing that sort of vision that has kept Quang Ho working with the ASLD since its founding. The immigrant from Vietnam has been drawing since he was four and geography is how he found himself working with the school.
“My studio used to be on 15th and Platte. When the school first opened, it moved down the hall from me in one little room,” Ho recalled.
The school was another place to practice his art.
“I would go in there and draw and paint the models,” he explained.
Soon he was teaching.
“I bet I learned more than the students did, to actually put into a concrete terminology so you can explain to a layperson what a painting is. It was a real beautiful challenge.”
He certainly learned enough to garner international acclaim. He’s considered one of the top representational artists in the country. Ho has painted works for Coors Brewing, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Prince of Brunei. But he still loves sharing those lessons with art league students.
“When I really became, to me, an artist is when I realized the entire language of painting is lines, shapes, values, colors and edges. Those are all abstract concepts.
“When I teach I really don’t tell them, ‘This is how you paint an apple.’ I teach them this is how you see an apple … once they understand that, it’s not an apple anymore. It’s color and shape.”
It’s a lesson that Ehrlich says changes more than just paintings.
“It’s more than a change it’s almost like you get a second life. You find that you have a different soul because you’ve become a painter.