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|