Famous Artists Fan Club

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These are not just little tips and techniques, but a full course of learning how to see, think, and draw like an artist.

My life as a fan of great art began when I was 22. I was visiting Paris, and like any self-respecting tourist, on my very first morning I drained my cup of café au lait and headed straight for the Louvre Museum.

A Fan wonders if he has been unmasked.

It was a bit different then. No grand underground entrance under a glass pyramid, just a long dusty walk around a dirty building to find the front door. I paid my few francs and almost immediately saw the most amazing thing: art. No food places, no bookshop, no backpacked teenagers or tour-guided adults, no cameras, no ticket machines, no information center.

I was absolutely alone in the halls, except for the odd security guard dozing in a corner, my steps echoing off fabulous, dazzling walls hung with the world’s most famous paintings. I zigzagged from renowned artist to renowned artist, open-mouthed at having them all to myself.

And then I saw her: the Mona Lisa. Two decades before Dan Brown, two decades before The Da Vinci Code. No velvet ropes, no bulletproof glass, no iPhones held up over the crowd, just hanging simply on a hook on the wall.

I had seen her image a thousand times, but was unprepared for the lovely golden light on her face and hands, catching on her clothing, softly illuminating the perplexing smile, the mysterious landscape. I was also unprepared for how in the solitary, quiet moment with her, her glow would awaken something in me…and turn me…into…a Famous Artists Fan.

I left the museum that day a changed woman. A new dark need burning in my soul, I went from a day zigzagging the Louvre’s echoing halls to a life zigzagging the world’s museums.

I traveled city to city, country to country. I sought out big exhibitions, I discovered small ones. I looked for both the celebrated and the obscure. As the art world began the now common phenomenon of mega-retrospectives of the world's most famous artists, I never tired of my passion, especially as I began to learn how to draw and paint myself.

The same Fan appreciating art.

It took many years before I realized how far I had gone. I was in London at the Tate. I was going to visit a Vermeer I had always wanted to see "live", The Little Street. As I drew near, in my delight I unthinkingly danced a few steps of a Highland Fling. Someone behind me chuckled, and I knew he couldn't understand. Something snapped. Enough was enough: I needed to meet like-minded souls. I needed to create...The Famous Artists Fan Club.

Hence these pages.

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