When I was at Atlanta College of Art taking post graduate classes, I was fortunate to take a couple of classes from a man named Fred Gregory. I studied Painting and Color Theory with this guy who had been Josef Albers’ student at Yale. Albers thought highly enough of Fred Gregory at Yale’s MFA program to appoint him as one of the two proofreaders of Albers’ color theory book. Since Albers’ life’s work was about color, the color on the pages and the color relationships had to be accurate. And, apparently, my teacher was that good.

Among the many things I learned from Fred, he taught me not to judge bad art. Instead, he said, look at it and ask myself what I would do to make it better.

I decided to illustrate this point with a spaghetti sauce can which is obviously repulsive. (I did not want to use any art here so as not to offend anyone) I thought everyone could relate to a picture of food on a can as a visual and apply it to Fred’s theory.

tomato can
I steamed the label off the can and asked myself what would make me like the image here better. So I went to work. What else but collage? I improved the can, put it back on the shelf in the grocery store, and voila! It looks good enough to take home.

tomato can 0 copy tomato can 1 copy
You don’t have to actually take home bad art and make it better. Fred said that the mere asking yourself what needed to be done to make the piece better, developed the aesthetic side of your mind. You would be working. Only conceptually. I believe that every time you “work” the side of your brain that does art, you learn and build on it, making you a better artist.

tomato can 2 copy

tomato can 5 copy