Home-Study and Studio Art Instruction for Children and Adults-Teacher Training

About the Instructor

About the Instructor-John Gordon:

I am the founder and director of Gordon School of Art and creator of the critically acclaimed New Masters Art Curriculum, a system of painting and drawing derived from traditional techniques and 25 years of personal research at the easel and in the classroom. My main interest as an artist is the pursuit of perceptual truth and the mastery of the technical means to render it faithfully. My main interest as a teacher is to pass on everything I learn to my students.

A Brief Summary of my Educational and Teaching Experience

I graduated from St Norbert College in West DePere, Wisconsin in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree in art. I attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison for one semester in my junior year where I took painting and life drawing classes. At one point during that semester, my painting instructor recommended that I consider another field. When I returned as a graduate student three years later, he offered me a teaching assistantship in intermediate painting.

I entered graduate school at UW – Madison in 1964 where I studied under Dean Meeker in printmaking, Santos Zingale and Hal Lotterman in painting, and John Wilde in drawing. I also studied painting for a semester under Milton Resnik, one of the original Abstract Expressionist painters in New York City in the 1940’s. I was awarded teaching assistantships in Intermediate painting under Santos Zingale in 1965 and in Beginning Drawing under John Wilde in 1966. I received my MFA degree in painting in 1966.

From 1967 to 1969 I was employed as a teacher/advisor for Operation Area Arts, a federally funded arts project under Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. O.A.A’s mission was to bring professional artists and performers to “culturally deprived areas”, which Northeastern Wisconsin was designated to be at the time. Our job was to set up studios, take in students, lecture, give public exhibitions and performances and act as advisors to local schools and arts organizations. The faculty consisted of published writers and poets, professional dramatists, musicians, dancers, and artists.

In 1973, I took a job as an art teacher at Parkview Middle School in Ashwaubenon, a suburb of Green Bay, Wisconsin, where I worked for 25 years, retiring in June of 1998.

During this period, I became interested in the teaching methods of Shinichi Suzuki, a pioneer in the field of music education, who specialized in the instruction of very young children. I began experimenting with his methods in an effort to adapt them to my own field, eventually building the sequence of exercises and projects that became the New Masters Curriculum.

In the 1980s I started teaching a series of private classes which were successful enough to enable me to rent a permanent studio space. As more and more students were added to the original group, I started to individualize my curriculum, creating worksheets and video tapes for each skill and project in the course. This freed me from the time-consuming and inefficient practice of imparting information to whole classes at once so I could spend more time coaching and monitoring students individually.

This system provided a natural basis for the development of a home-study version of the course, which I began to market in the early 1990s. Mary Pride, one of the pioneers of the home schooling movement and one of its most prominent advocates, advised and encouraged me through this process. To date, I have instructed nearly 3000 home-study students in 20 countries.

During the same period, I taught evening classes in painting and drawing at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay and Northeastern Wisconsin Technical Institute. I also lectured on art history and theory and conducted workshops in painting and drawing at various colleges, arts organizations, and museums — including the University of Georgia, Andrews University, the Elvejihem Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin Art History Department in Madison.

In addition to my continuing local studio classes and home-study courses, I currently teach basic drawing and design classes at St Norbert College in DePere, Wisconsin.


A Statement of My Aims as an Artist

My direction as an artist over the past 25 years has been to paint what I see as I see it, without the “aid” of graphic images, like photographs. As simple as this may sound, it is not simple in practice. To paint directly from life, and to do so truthfully, requires more than technical skill. It requires a commitment to the truth as presented to us by our own direct experience.

The obstacles to this direction are formidable. Aside from the inadequacies of our own technical skills, we must overcome the distractions of our private thoughts and physical sensations, our bad habits, our negative psychological tendencies, and our conflicting desires and emotions.

Almost as importantly, we must overcome the memories of the pictures we have seen throughout our lives, which impose themselves on our perceptual process and encourage us to paint in the style of other artists.

My main influence, since I started painting from life in 1975, has been Paul Cezanne, who first proposed the principle of direct-perception as a new direction in painting at the turn of the 20th Century. His theories were rejected by the first generation of painters to follow him, whom we now refer to as “modern”. They chose instead to embrace and mimic his painting style, which they used to move the art world in the direction of self-expression and abstraction, a direction from which we have not yet recovered.

John Gordon
Director, Gordon School of Art
New Masters™ Art Curriculum
Green Bay, Wisconsin

Paintings by John Gordon

 Portraits & Figures Paintings by John M.Gordon

Selections from my still-life, landscape and figure paintings

Self Portrait in White T-Shirt

Girl in Black Coat


David B.

Self Portrait in Tan Shirt

Donald T.

Landscapes by John M.Gordon

Fence Line at Dusk

Fallen Tree

The Fox at Zellers

East River Shoreline

Oaks in the Snow

Aluminum Boat

Scrays Hill Quarry 2

Still Lifes by John M.Gordon

Baseball Glove

Yellow Pot and Gourds

Seated Cherub

Breakfast Bowl and Nectarine

Still Life with Didjeridoo


“Talent Is A Matter of Training”
— Shinichi Suzuki