Thursday, September 27, 2012


At left is a self-portrait done by my first teacher of oil painting.  Pat Corso, educated at the Art Students League in New York, came to Rhode Island around 1981 -- just in time for my return from a temporary assignment in Washington, D.C.  I remember seeing his photos of his realistic work in the local newspaper which also announced that he would be giving lessons for $15 a head at the Guild in Wakefield, RI.  Three of us showed up to take lessons from this outspoken artist, but two of them backed down, intimidated by his harsh, critical manner.  He asked me if I would be willing to take private lessons at the rate of  seven dollars for a couple of hours.  I agreed .  Surprisingly, he knew what I was after -- the knowledge and craft of Monet.  He yelled back that it would take years and years to begin to paint like that.  (At the time, I thought the words an exaggeration, but now I know better!)  His three dogs would often require his attention -- usually through his threatening to kill them when they misbehaved or had their family squabbles.  When I completed what I thought was my best painting, he barked, "You'll be a good painter -- in twenty years!"
       While instruction from him seemed to put this student on the edge of a razor for each session, his urgings were essential to the serious-minded. "What color do you see in that tree trunk?"  "Purple", I hesitatingly replied.  "Then paint it that way!!"  He was always prodding one to LOOK and COMPARE.  He was difficult, proud. " Father Sicilian, mother Jewish".  An outstanding painter up against the incursions of modern abstract art .  I can still hear his urgings in my subconscious, even though I could be called a rather poor student of his for only a year or two.  My mistake was to push his in-your-face instruction away too soon.  A greater artist, a greater soul would have stayed the course for at least another year, with the ability to ignore all the melodrama, acidic criticism, and insistent pessimism.  With all that, I am indebted to him for the strong start he gave me in painting. One other artist, Solace Loven , also counts Pat as one of her teachers.  Corso passed away in 1989, victim of a "routine" hospital procedure.

   After Corso, I had several other teachers, nationally known, and a few of which were his contempory artists at the Art Students League.  From each teacher, I have gained another way of looking at nature , of turning paintings into art.  Here are a couple of experiments inspired by some of my readings :

       .   At left is actually a painting of sunflowers, despite the presence of "my little teapot".  It's an oil on linen, 16x20.  Past still life work I have done was a little more "realistic" and perhaps had a tonal mood, but here I was after a little more expressiveness.  An artist must paint with emotion, according to the teachings of Sergei Bongart.   I have also done a still life with roses, with the same thought in mind.  ( I reserve this painting for the next blog opportunity.)


No comments:

Post a Comment