Thursday, June 18, 2009

En Plein Air
48 x 48 Oil on Linen

Not long after I wrote the previous post I received word that Frank Mason had died. It's hard to believe that the 53 year old powerhouse that I studied with at the League is gone. Yes, he was 88 years old, but I had seen him survive lead poisoning and heart and lung problems that would have taken down any normal man. I thought he was indestructible. He was a great, great artist and had enormous influence over the next generation. He shaped my artistic vision and that of countless others. Of course I have many memories of wonderful demonstrations, critiques and lessons. Many of his students share those memories, but from time to time I remind myself to make mental snapshots knowing that the moment I am in is important to me and one that I will want to remember. Those snapshots are not always of painting, but of Frank playing baseball with us after a landscape crit, or Frank playing the piano at one of the parties in his studio, of the time we were adjusting the lights in his studio at 2am because he was having an open studio show the next day, of the two of us having lunch during a break as I framed and crated his paintings for an exhibition. One day Elizabeth and I were at his house in Vermont helping him prepare canvas. We worked all day until suddenly Frank began to panic. "The sun is almost down and we haven't painted yet. Drop everything" he said. So we did and quickly set up and started painting. We only had about 20 or 30 minutes before the light was gone but in that time I did a small study on paper of Frank as he stood painting the last light of the day. It is the only time I ever painted him and is one of my sentimental favorites. Many years later I made En Plein Air from that sketch. The world has lost a great artist and a great man, and I have lost my teacher and my friend.....