Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

I taught my first class at Howard High School in 1965.  I have taught at high schools, colleges, church basements, grand halls, regal resorts, and 45 states. I have worked with thousands of students and, for the most part, the experience has been extremely rewarding.  There is no profession as honorable and noble as teaching. Especially, if I may say so, teaching art! Where else can you find so many people dedicated to learning a craft that offers so few rewards. There is little chance of getting rich, fame is only in our dreams, and it seems that the better and  more personal we get at our craft the smaller the approving audience gets. From my point of view there are no people so beautiful as aspiring artist.

The rewards of teaching come in small increments, one student at a time.  One student making the jump from imitation to creation. Each new understanding brings a smile to the face of student and teacher.  Each time I see the light of awareness radiating from the face of someone I am working with I am richly rewarded.

Teaching and painting have been my life and I could not have wished for anything better.  This year I received the highest honor of all, even bigger that the Towson University Distinguished Alumni Award, and the High Winds Medal from AWS, when Barbara Smucker honored me with The Big Orange Splot award.  The Big Orange Splot is a children's book written by Daniel Manus Pinkwater.  It is the story of Mr. Plumbean who lives in a town where all the houses are the same until the day that a seagull dropped a bucket of orange paint on the roof of Mr. Plumbean's house.  The neighbors were upset that their perfect, predictable town had been altered. Mr. Plumbean, however, saw potential in the occurrence and painted his entire house  in equally vibrant colors.  "My house is me and I am it.  My  house is  where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams," said Mr. Plumbean.  After many discussions with the neighbors and lots of shared lemonade every house was painted exactly as the owner wanted his house to be.  Barbara Smucker's  inscription to me reads:
To Skip- Thank you for being the "Mr. Plumbean" in my life."

For me there could be no greater thanks than this gift of shared joy and respect.

Happy Thanksgiving !


Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Plan for Exploration and Success.

Tomorrow I leave for Springmaid Beach Workshops at Myrtle Beach, SC. This is my last teaching gig of 2010 the next being in March of 2011.  It has been a terrific year as I have had the opportunity to share with many students their breakthrough in the content and form in their paintings. Change in the art we make is always the result of a change in philosophy.  No change is impossible.  It is the old saying "if you are not growing you are dying" that should keep us looking ever forward to possibilities.
I am presently looking very much forward to the 4 months of uninterrupted time I have available for working.  That time will be as meaningful as I make it.  Procrastination, if unchecked, can eat up most of this valuable time. So, I need a plan.  Not just a general plan, like saying I am going to work hard during this time, but a more specific plan.
The images and ideas I have been working on still excite me and that tells me there is more to be learned. The best way to evaluate your enthusiasm for what you are working on is to pay attention to how excited you are about getting back to it.  Another barometer of your depth of  enthusiasm is what happens to the time spent working on the ideas.  If hours seem like minutes you are properly engaged.  If minutes seem like hours do something else.
My plan and desire is to complete 8 large canvas images.  These will be a continuation of what I have been doing  and I hope that the change from paper and watercolor to acrylic and canvas will open windows of possibility.  The idea of large paintings, at least 48" x 48", always excites me.  As these images depend so much on brilliant hues the larger the better, at least that has been my experience so far. Large paintings allow shapes of color to fill our field of vision and the feeling I get is one of being in the painting.   I will continue of make line drawings, to explore rhythms and gestures, although I rarely use them for the design of a larger painting. The works on paper will be the laboratory where I experiment with unusual color combinations for emotional content. There is nothing quite like making a declaration to yourself and to whomever reads this blog to get ones juices flowing.  It is my intention to share with you my progress.  For motivation, you know!
Week one will be used for stretching canvases ( wish I had a gallery assistant).

What's Your Plan?

"Quest"  22"x 30"

This summer in Maine, Diane Santarella (my wife) began exploring oyster shells as the subject of a series of paintings.  While the initial interest in  oysters as a painting subject was not planned, her following the inspiration and the resulting paintings were.  To see what happened with Diane's search go to: