Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Upholding the Classical Tradition
24 x 36 Oil on Linen

Artistic experiences: part 6, Mason’s class
I soon found out I wasn’t the only League student working at Carnegie Hall. Several of the ushers were artists too and we became fast friends. After the evening’s concert was over 4 or 5 of us would go across the street to Carney’s bar and talk for hours over a few pitchers of beer. They had been in New York longer than me and I was anxious to hear what they had to say. The conversation was not just about painting, although there was plenty of that, but also about music and philosophy, politics and history. These were not a bunch of dopey social misfits, as artists sometimes are, they were highly intelligent, well educated and fascinating. I was impressed by their conversation and, even though I had yet to see their work, wanted to know who they were studying with. They all had the same answer, Frank Mason. I knew Mason’s work from an article in American Artist magazine and his full length standing portrait in the League’s Instructors Exhibition was my favorite in the show. They introduced me to their mentor and I signed up for his class without hesitation. My first critique was a little embarrassing but very profound for me. Mason’s class was so popular that it spilled over into a second room. Because I was starting in the middle of the week I had to find a place to paint wherever I could. Both rooms were packed and there was no place for me to set up where I could see the model so I set up near the doorway, opposite the skylight, and started a painting of a plaster cast of Donatello’s David. Mason showed up the next day, quickly glanced at what I was doing, then said “turn your easel around so you can get more light on your painting and get yourself a hat so you won’t be blinded by the skylight. Now follow me around and watch the other crits, you’ll learn much faster that way.” It only took 10 seconds but it was extremely important to me, I was being taken seriously as an artist…..

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