Knowing Sheldon Borenstein can be a life-changing gift. I've been extremely fortunate to learn this personally, from our long friendship, and professionally, from the first time we met as colleagues at Warner Bros. Animation. I was director of artist development and Sheldon was head of the cleanup department. I am a lifelong teacher and a lifelong aficionado of quality art and animation, and have known thousands of colleagues in both fields. I can say without qualification that Sheldon is 24-karat priceless as an artist, an educator and friend.
At Warners, Sheldon was always the go-to person, the most qualified and most eager to help young artists develop their craft. He joyfully pushed their understanding (and mine, too!) of Renaissance art as the marrow of great animation. Each time he would teach a seminar, I would observe his apprentice and professional protégés, who clearly caught Sheldon's infectious passion for the legacy and mystery of great drawing and the real meaning of being an artist.
Ever since our days at Warner Bros., I've counted my blessings for the opportunity to continue working with Sheldon in education. Sheldon supervises the development of student drawing in our interactive gallery on the ACME website. Sheldon has been working with us on the ACME Animation website since its inception, more than twelve years. He has been sharing his deep knowledge and enthusiasm with students of all ages, via ACME Animation Online, our non-profit resource, bringing expertise to hundreds of high school and college classrooms. For the students and teachers on ACME Online, Sheldon generously gives his time designing high-quality curriculum and giving professional critique and advice on students' life drawings. He applies his wisdom at every level for beginners, working on portfolios to enter college; for apprentice-level learners polishing their skills to become professionals; and even for pros continuing their learning as they work in the industry.
Sheldon is a rare educator who knows the foundation of good teaching as deeply as he understands the underpinnings of great art. While Sheldon is one of the most enthusiastic and truly joyful educators I've ever worked with, he is also one of the most serious and knowledgeable. Don't let his buoyant personality fool you; Sheldon is an expert. No gimmicks for Sheldon on canvas or in the classroom. Sheldon's students become grounded in the fundamentals of art, design and anatomy. Their developing skills and understanding frees them, to express themselves with ever-growing confidence. Many students that have the fortune to work with Sheldon over time achieve professional level skills and achieve what is referred to as "flexible performance capability." This is fancy Ivy League terminology that describes the ability for an artist that can effectively tackle any novel visual problem thrown at them with confidence.
In the arts world an "Academy" is a revered designation. It represents the pursuit of skill and expressive abilities by a community of artists. The fortunate students at Sheldon's Art Academy benefit from Sheldon's teaching skills in just such an emerging community of artists. He teaches students to observe the world and "see," and reflect as artists. Just as important, Sheldon helps each of his students to know themselves. Each of his students, as unique as individual snowflakes, are is helped to develop his or her own unique qualities, aspirations, skills, and with Sheldon's guidance each one grows personally and artistically as they learn to apply the fundamentals of fine art in a myriad of ways.
Sheldon uses a continuously growing palette of teaching talents to make such a rare learning culture happen. For the students at Sheldon's Art Academy, the first day of class is usually an unfamiliar and refreshing school experience: walking into a learning community where one learns that relaxing and comfort with one's self is the best approach to a discipline. Sheldon's students like his friends learn self-confidence and self-appreciation along with fine art.
I have been honored over the years to be awarded with international and national education honors. I consider Sheldon to be "an educator's educator." For my entire career as an educator, I've held my own teaching to the highest standard I could: Would I want this class, this lesson, this activity for my own child? Is that not the highest standard? Sheldon's Art Academy meets this standard. I would love nothing more than to have Sheldon teach my own grandchildren!