By David Tulis
The first graduate from the Tulis homeschool academy in Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., is the subject of a book by Dutch photographer Huub Claessens. The book is Dutch Soldier, which traces her time at Culemborg, Netherlands, producing a life-sized bust of a soldier with a fancifully designed body of armor.
Abigail Marie Tulis, 23, was part of a three-month artist-in-residence fellowship. She resides in New York and sculpts for a living. My wife, Jeannette, and I home educated Abigail all her life. She is the eldest of four children, and was for two years an apprentice of Chattanooga sculptor Cessna Decosimo.
One way in which she is a blessing to the world of art is that she espouses the classical ideals of art. This perspective is part of the Christian doctrine of the arts, which declares that beauty is objective, not merely subjective and private.
Dutch Soldier is a 68-page fine art book priced at 60 euros and available in dollars at Blurb. This portal lets you look at Mr. Claessen’s powerful black and white photos as they appear in print. http://www.blurb.com/books/6602944-dutch-soldier
In an excerpt below published in 2012, Abigail discusses her girlhood in the Tulis household and the habits that helped her as an artist.
An artist’s girlhood reflections
The figure and classical art have held my interest from early youth. In elementary school I pored over art history and how-to-draw-people books. My homeschool lessons included weekly studies of the inspiring masterpieces of Western art as well as painting and drawing.
The idea of beauty in literature and art is something to pursue in work and study as well as in one’s leisure hours. This yearning as a child shaped my life. Recognizing beauty leads to truth, to right forms and to the desire for more understanding.
The environment provided by home education allows a child’s creativity to grow unhindered. For an impressionable child, this advantage has profound implications. I am ahead of many of my peers in that I was nurtured on the classics and fine arts.
Thankfully the school I attend is a small one filled with like-minded people who value the pursuit of beauty and truth. Yet my friends who did not have the benefit of this type of education had to fight the system most of their lives and are still suffering repercussions of that battle, whereas I had fertile soil in which to grow.
To know and savor beauty in one’s youth ensures that as the artist matures and begins to learn the principles of design, color and form, he or she will have a deeper capacity for understanding and a clear goal towards which to direct those principles. The classical artist is able to soar to heights almost out of view of the shortsighted modern artist who stands alone and apart from the classical tradition.
Picture study is the enjoyment of looking at pictures, leading to an appreciation of the best. True connoisseurship has been the guiding beacon of every great artist. Michelangelo was copying and admiring Masaccio, while Raphael and Rodin (and most every great artist) were looking towards Michelangelo. Rubens copied Titians and many other master paintings his whole life, even after he was established. Ingres studied Holbein and Picasso, while Degas learned from Rembrandt. This connoisseurship or learning how to balance on the shoulders of our predecessors is the most fundamental thing for any artist, whether in painting, music, architecture or writing.
Enjoying the gestural lines and the dappling of light in a painting is the first step, the most necessary step, and a process that, for a creative soul, only becomes more vital as one goes along.
Source: Jeannette and Abigail Tulis, “The Beauty of a Charlotte Mason Education,” Childlight U.S.A., Dec. 9, 2012, https://childlightusa.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/the-beauty-of-a-charlotte-mason-education-by-jeannette-and-abigail-tulis/