Thank you, Mary Shustack, for this fabulous write up of my current exhibit!
The landscape was not my first love.
I began my artistic journey as a teenager with a passion for drawing the figure. I spent my early years studying anatomy with some of the great masters of my time. Stephen Rogers Peck gave classes at the Westchester County Center when I was in high school. Robert Beverly Hale was still teaching at the Art Students League when I first moved to New York.
Drawing from the figure has been a constant throughout my life, and I’ve been drawing from the model with my students at Parsons School of Design for over 30 years.
This summer I started attending sketch classes after a long hiatus, and it has rekindled my earliest memories of why I became an artist and how strongly I feel about the importance of drawing. Drawing is a completely different animal than painting. When painting, I am aware of shape relationships, blocks of color and value. In blocking in a painting, I cover the surface as quickly as possible, and continue to add layers of color until I feel I’ve reached the natural conclusion of the endeavor. The painting is a finished piece.
Drawing is about capturing the moment. It is an exercise in economy, seeing intensely and eliminating the conscious noise in your head in order to create a direct link to your arm and the tool it holds. When you are really “plugged in” you lose yourself in the moment, and the self-judgment and other bothersome chatter disappears from your mind. Meditation is a comparable skill.
I began posting daily drawings in July on Instagram, Facebook and here on my blog. I am mining drawings from old sketchbooks as well as posting new ones. There is a mix of subject, style, and media.
The freedom to share these personal studies has never existed before social media. These drawings are the things I am most proud to show, but since they have nothing to do with my other work that is published, purchased, or generally on view, they have always been hidden away in drawers and sketchbooks on my studio shelves. They are not finished pieces, but hold the purity of my intention and evidence of a life-long practice of looking.
It was Lennart Anderson that led me to Brooklyn College in the late '80s to pursue a Masters in Painting.
I had discovered his work in the book, ART OF THE REAL, edited by Mark Strand, and it came to me at a time when I was searching for my own voice after spending years working as an illustrator predominantly in monochrome media.
The green table!!
In his painting "Still LIfe with Kettle", I was struck by the subtle changes in the green, the warmth and the chroma of the table increasing slightly to separate it from the cooler background of the same value. A range of tonal variations in the cold metal kettle is echoed in smaller bits by the salt shaker, plate, bottle, and the duller metal blade. Highly saturated fruit and the yellow roll punctuate the composition. Symmetry is disrupted with the placement of all the smaller elements. The result is sublime.
I have a green table in my front entry hall, that is a kind of homage to Lennart and this painting.
My Saturdays spent in Lennart's painting classes at Brooklyn College were monastic in tenor. I don't remember him talking very much or commenting on my work, but it was as if he was channeling Dickenson and Hawthorne, and we became acutely aware of the subtlest changes in value and color, spots of color next to each other. An old figure study from these classes is posted below.
In an art culture that celebrates the conceptual and the landscapes of our interior, Lennart helped us to carry the art of observation into the contemporary. He has had a profound influence on me and so many others. I will always be grateful to him.