August 4, 2010

Where Do Paintings Come From?

Why have I not painted in so long? Because I didn't know WHAT to paint. WHERE would this amazing painting come from?

I went to RISD to be a photographer. But it is a painting/drawing class that changed me. When I walked in the class, I saw a large man smoking in an empty paint stained room. There were no drawing benches or models waiting like in my first semester drawing class. I don't remember an introduction but the name on my schedule said Alfred DeCredico. He gave us our first assignment and then told us to go and do it. We all looked at each other thinking "does this mean we can leave?" One by one we shuffled out of the studio. The assignment was to make a drawing that took at least three hours. Easy! The scheduled class was four hours with the usual endless hours of homework. I strolled into a garden with my sketchpad and charcoals and started to draw the moss covered statues. I was so proud to go to class and show off my genius drawings. When the big day arrived, we all proudly pinned our drawings on the walls. Looking around the class my once genius drawing shrunk into something quite inadequate.

What happened next was the beginning of my education. "Rip them in half." We all ripped our drawings in half; some (like me) with hesitation and some with rockstar confidence. "Give half of your drawing to someone and take theirs. Make a new drawing." Good, bad who cared? It was just a painting after all.

Painting made in Al's Class 2000

Al didn't often call students by their name. So when he did you knew he noticed your work. I was sure he didn't know my name until the class when he actually used my name in critique. While I have stored most of my old artwork, I still love some of the work I made in his class. It hangs on my wall to remind me of that time.

Al lived large in every way and I was so sorry to hear he died last year. Somehow it doesn't matter that he will never know how much his class meant to me. I don't think it would matter to him much anyways.  

This is a work in progress that I started yesterday. I haven't painted in so long because I didn't know what to paint; I didn't know how to start. Where would this amazing painting come from? Yesterday I remembered Al and how I felt in his class. This is what happened when I picked up my brush. After all it's just painting.

In progress 2010


Janie B said...

I have the same problem. I can never think of what to paint. I don't think I'm very creative.

Phyl said...

Erica, I love this story, and your colorful paintings as well. I think we all have a teacher like that - mine were two that were sort of like each other in spirit but totally different in personality - Alex Martin and Alex Minewski, both at SUNY New Paltz. I also remember my first view of Mr. Martin, with the charcoal stains rising from his pockets, and the turquoise paintings he did of clouds that mimicked the swirling motions he did with his hands in class. Aaaahhh. With both of them, it was ENDLESS drawings in sketchbooks, articulated cubes, painting in the cemetery, voluminous clouds and equally voluminous models, and color, color, COLOR!! Thanks for making me think of my these two men; I think I'll paint tomorrow!
Oh - and by the way - you should again be able to leave comments on my blog! Problem solved, and the world is all good :-)

Unknown said...

I'm sure you're creative! You are an art teacher, something inside you made you decide to declare your major as art ed. after all you could've declared economics or finance!

I love your story of Alex and Alex! So vivid! I swung by your blog it's great and best of all it works.

Mrs. Hahn said...

Looks like you have been having fun this summer. I'm so glad! I love reading about and seeing your amazing work!

Mrs. Hahn said...

Always ask... don't worry about freely silly for asking about anything that I post (or change) on my blog. You know I don't recall the exact site that I found my template but I typed in blogger templates into google. There is a million sites and templates and they some sites have instructions of how to change your blog. It's kind of fun!

Unknown said...

Thanks! I better not start this tonight. It looks like so much fun I might stay up all night changing formats. We are computer dorks:)

Phyl said...

Hi Erica, I've been reading this comment strand and here's the web address that Mrs. Hahn used to find her beautiful new template:
There's 103 pages of templates to wade through - YIKES - and I'd say she was luckier than me, because the cute one I chose after hours of narrowing it down, was colorful, playful, but simple enough to not be distracting - but in the end it's the one that also ate my dragon and some other stuff. I did follow the directions, but once it was on didn't know how to fix it other than go back to square one. I guess it would help if you or someone with you has a clue about this stuff and understands all the html nonsense etc. I don't! Anyhow, good luck!!!

Dianal said...

Erica: I love your courage! Love the painting too. Remembering my painting teachers...sniff.

Daniel Bronstein said...

Knowing Al, it would have mattered how much his class meant to you. He loved teaching(was a ruthless grader), and he loved getting ideas from his students work, even more.

Unknown said...

DB I can't believe you found this little blog and know Al too. . .small world. Were you a student? Feel lucky just to have gotten to be in his class. Especially being an art teacher now, I remind myself of what makes a great teacher. . . a lot of Al stories come to mind. I had no idea he was a ruthless grader, I do remember him keeping one work of mine. What a collection he must have of RISD kids work. I think he choose one from every student in the class? Would love to rummage through that portfolio.