Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Studio 7 at the Art Students League has a unique and remarkable history. In the last 100 years only 2 instructors have taught the afternoon class there, Frank Vincent DuMond and Frank Mason. It is where I learned to paint. When I was a student in Mason's class it was sometimes so crowded that I couldn't see the model. I would use that opportunity to paint the other students as they worked or paint the plaster casts that were available for us to study. My favorite cast was Donatello's David. A heroic yet touchingly human version of the biblical hero. Since it was a white plaster cast against a gray wall it seemed logical to me to do a black and white painting. I did my best to create the illusion of form, of light and shade, of weight and atmosphere. Frank made a few kind remarks about my efforts then gently manipulated what I had done, making it both stronger and more subtle. He used the shadows in the background to create a composition and reinforced the lights on the figure. Then came the lesson that I never forgot. "The entire spectrum of light is coming in through the skylight" he said, "so why are you using only black and white?" He deftly added a few cool blues to my gray shadows and then splashed some warm reds and oranges to express the reflected lights. "Never let your painting die" he said.....

2 comments:

Walter Lynn Mosley said...

This is the way I remember it, when David was white instead of the faux brown he is now. Nice!

Walter Lynn Mosley said...

Congratulations on keeping the tradition going!