Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Art Student Days

I watched a film recently called Local Color. Its the true story of a young man struggling to learn about how to paint like the great artists he admired. He wanted to learn how to paint as a representational artist in a time where it was considered old fashioned. He met an old man who was a great Russian impressionist who, although initially he was reluctant, became his mentor.
So much of this movie reminded me of my school days. In high school, (the High School of Art & Design), I was extremely lucky to come across the instructors I did- Irwin Greenberg, Max Ginsberg and Irv Docktor. I learned about painting in oils, watercolor, gouache, pastel and drawing in graphite, charcoal, pen and ink. I learned about the history of art and about classical illustrators. It was the best art school I've ever been in. Then I went on to college, Parsons School of Design at a time, as in the movie, where pursuing representational work was frowned upon, (as a matter of fact another film comes to mind, Art School Confidential. It was supposed to be a comedy but a lot of that was so true to life). I remember I would always buy books on artist and I especially liked the work of John Singer Sargent. When one of the instructors saw me constantly looking at the book on Sargent she came to me and said something like, "I see you really like Sargent". I said yes and then the next class session she handed me a xerox copy of an article on Sargent that was very negative and compared him to a modern artist who the writer felt was the superior artist. She gave me about three more such articles at the start of three separate sessions. I think at some point I said no thank you. Then I switched my major from illustration to fine art hoping things would get better but actually they got worse. Not all the instructors were bad, some were very good, but if you wanted to learn classical painting it just wasn't being taught back then or it was very hard to find and not in the colleges. Nowadays I see that there are a lot of places that teach classical painting and that's great for a lot of young artist and leaves me a little envious wishing I had that when I didn't have the responsibility of a family, (though I'm very happy to have my wife and two kids thank you).
The works that I post here are things that I did around this time, (the time I was in college). I like looking at the stuff I did back then because it was a time when I dreamed about doing great things, It's easy to get discouraged and think that I'm knocking on 50 and I'm not where I wanted to be. It somehow helps me to think to give it one more day, or to give it another try. I can still dream.

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