Friday, June 2, 2017

Interview with 2017 Graduate Tsultrim Tenzin

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Tsultrim Tenzin, a recent graduate of the Core Program, about his experience at GCA. A New Jersey native, he began his education here in 2013, and graduated earlier this May.

What drove you to apply to GCA?
I was looking for proper art training and I knew of the ARC (Art Renewal Center), where I found GCA. It also happened to be close to home and it was financially the only choice for my art education. Seeing the instructors' work really was a big indicator of the quality of the program as well. It felt like everything was in the right place and the circumstances were perfect to attend GCA.

Did you set any goals when you started the program?
Coming in it was more or less that I just really wanted to learn to draw and paint and get really good at it, but after that I did set some goals. It's a work in progress that will continue for the rest of my career.

What did you struggle most with as a student?
My first year I struggled a lot with form - just getting on the form. I understood the concepts that the teachers would talk about but just couldn't translate it to paper. I remember rendering over 20 spheres trying to practice, constantly practicing to build up that dexterity and handling. That was the biggest struggle, getting on the form early on.



Is there a particularly memorable or helpful critique that has stuck with you?
That's a tough one, because I feel that a lot of critiques were helpful. If there's one thing, it's not quite a critique, but more a bit of advice from Colleen Barry. I remember her telling me that it's about the long run. So for me, as an emotional person who gets upset whenever I do something wrong, that advice felt like she was telling me I need to calm down - this art that we do is really hard, and I need to take it easy. It's a step-by-step process and it's not about who gets there the quickest. That's something that really helps me today when I'm feeling down. It's about looking at the bigger picture.

What are your future plans?

Some of them would be to improve my abilities even further. Studying the masters even more closely will be a big part of it. I'm a particularly big fan of Rembrandt and Velasquez. So copies. Down the road, I definitely would love to, if I could, do a portrait of the 14th Dalai lama, Tenzin Gyatso. I also want to do a Tibetan series, depicting Tibetans in exile, but I want that to be a really special show where I'm technically really proficient and ready.

What advice would you give incoming GCA students who are starting their education?
Have humility and be open minded. You can't be egotistical as if you're more important than anyone else, because you're not. And be open minded - don't pretend that you know everything. Your teachers have your best interests in mind, so listen to them. Don't take your teachers for granted and don't be afraid to ask questions. You just can't think that you're better than anyone else; you have to be grounded and you can only do the best that you can.

Photo courtesy of Mariana Hernandez-Rivera

Thank you to Tsultrim for the time, and congratulations and good luck to all you 2017 graduates!

No comments: