The art class has just begun at June Wilson’s Studio gallery in Latrobe, Tasmania, Australia. This is the back half of the gallery and it’s well-appointed with everything needed for art teaching. Tasmanians love their food as you can see in the foreground and that’s only starters. There was morning and afternoon tea as well! A great venue, great people, great hosts, great food and a great day!!
My coloured pencil workshop on Saturday was a great success. My 16 female students worked hard and achieved a lot. But where were the men? Why is it that so few men in Australia work in coloured pencils, or indeed practise any form of art? Is this situation typical throughout the world!
I’m sure there are a raft of reasons, but I think back to my art school days. We began with 24 students and 19 of us graduated. As far as I can recollect there were only 5 males in that group.
It seems that the arts struggle to attract a large male following. Our society here in Australia is relatively young, and our stereo-typical male is physical, hard-working, yet laid-back. There has traditionally been little encouragement for men to express their feelings or creativity in a “public” way.
Is it really true that women are more ‘right-brain thinkers’ than men, or has this been the result of cultural influences over time?
Coloured Pencil art is not popular with men, and if one is to be brutally honest, it’s not the first choice of many artists, male or female for that matter. Oils, watercolours and pastels are far more popular.
Is art in general, not ‘blokey’ enough for men? Are men destined to be builders and repairers? Is art too sensitive a pastime for the male species?
It’s a lot to do with status in the community. Some parts of Australia are very ‘arty’ and attract both sexes to actively participate.
Cp artists like myself just have to keep extolling the virtues of our preferred medium and encouraging as many men as we can to join our workshops. I get about a 10% response from men and I’d love to see that increase.
Art is often seen as a ‘hobby’, especially with retirees. Men build things, with many joining ‘Men’s Sheds’ throughout the country. Women tend to favour arts and crafts.
Cultural history and attitudes play are very important role in any society. The arts aren’t that ‘big’ in Australia and have never been high on the list of desirable occupations or hobbies..
What can we do?
Encourage, encourage, encourage…