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

Program Philosophy

The New Masters Art Curriculum is dedicated to the development of a new generation of great masters.

An Introduction to Parents, Students and Teachers
(Exerpted from the Foundation Course Teacher Manual)

Before beginning the research that led to the development of the New Masters curriculum I taught art in the traditional manner in a traditional public school setting — with traditional results. Each year I would plan a series of art activities that I thought were varied and interesting. I would introduce them to my students in a vaguely logical order and help them to succeed as best I could — within the time limitations defined by the school schedule. As happens in almost all traditional art classes, some of my students did very well and some of them did not. Accordingly, I gave out a variety of grades: some A’s, a lot of B’s, some C’s, a few D’s, and even an occasional F or two.

Then something happened that was not only to change the way I approached art instruction, but the way I viewed the whole question of human nature and potential. I enrolled two of my children in a Suzuki music program and was exposed for the first time to a radically new philosophy of education, a philosophy embodied in the simple Idea that “all kids have talent”, not just a select few — and the related idea that “talent is a matter of training”. Once I accepted the idea that all normal human beings — even those with minor handicaps — can, under ideal conditions, master almost any skill activity, I set out to create those ideal conditions in my own field. The result is a system of art instruction capable of eventually developing professional level representational skills in all students regardless of their ages or demonstrated ability levels prior to instruction.

Such accomplishments are not going to happen overnight, of course, and they are not going to happen without a serious commitment on the part of students and teachers, but with the availability of this curriculum, it is a goal that all students can expect to reach and eventually surpass — if it is their sincere desire to do so.

It should be pointed out that professional level technical skill is not the highest goal of the program, but an important first step for all serious artists in either the commercial or fine arts fields. The ultimate goal of the program and the primary focus on its higher levels, is to train students to draw and paint from life, on a level of mastery attained during the greatest periods in art history: 16th Century Italy , 17th Century Spain and Holland , and 19th Century Europe .

While this may seem a strange and unrealistic goal to some, I find it even stranger to believe that such levels of artistic excellence were possible in the past but not in the present or future. And I find it almost as strange to believe that such accomplishments are possible only for a mysteriously gifted few on a planet of billions.

So why is representational excellence in the visual arts so evident in the art of the past and so rare today? Certainly not because the 19th Century Europeans or the 17th Century Dutch had more innate “talent” than we have, but because they had access to educational methods that are currently lost to us. And perhaps even more importantly, because they embraced a work ethic that the contemporary visual arts field has all but abandoned.

Why did we lose those methods and values in such a short time? Because the Modern Art revolution suddenly and dramatically changed our ideas about art. In a matter of a few decades, we moved away from a focus on the outer world of nature (used either as a devise to illustrate classical and romantic ideas, or as an end in itself) to a focus on the inner world of the imagination. One can argue for or against the Modern Art aesthetic and its emphasis on individual “self-expression”, but one cannot deny the result of its influence on the decline of representational drawing and painting skills in the 20th Century.

The primary goal of the Masters System, then, is to develop the teaching methods and establish the work values necessary to restore representational artistic skills to pre 20th Century levels.

It is not the intention of the program, however, to reestablish the artistic aims and priorities of past ages. It is to give the artists of today the skills possessed by the artists of the past so that they can do whatever they choose to do with them. It should be kept in mind that this level of achievement is the ultimate and far-reaching goal of the program, one that none of my students nor myself has yet attained; but it is one that we will continue to pursue with confidence and determination knowing that even if we fail, we will have gained much from the attempt.

The Program’s Principles and Goals:

The New Masters™ program was developed and continues to be conducted on the basis of the following principles.

Click here for more information:

The perception and invention principles

The analysis, manageability and mastery principles

The goals of the New Masters™ program


New Masters private lessons are available for children ages six and up or for anyone who prefers private lesson over classroom instruction. (Age exceptions will be made based on the parent’s conception of their child’s maturity and capability.)

For more information call 1 (920) 632-7756 or email John Gordon, Gordon School of Art at: johngordon4740@gmail.com