The painting above is by Jan Van Goyen,1596-1656
This post is a continuation of the last, if you have not read that, go back, please and do, as it will be essential to the understanding of what I am about to write. In about 1975 or maybe 76, it is now a long time ago and things are a little fuzzy, I had one of those life changing revelations. The previous post describes Harold Speed having the same awakening. I had read Harold Speed several years before, but I guess it was a case of only being able to understand what you are ready for. I had read it, but had to find it out on my own in order to understand this idea.
Here is how this awakening happened. I had been studying with R.H.Ives Gammell and then with Robert Douglass Hunter and as I was not a terribly promising student, I was given lots of the basics. That was fitting, and a good decision on their part which has served me well. Still my training was very similar to that which Speed described.
I had moved from the old Fenway studios in Boston with its minimal heat and bathroom down the hall, to a small apartment a few blocks away on Commonwealth ave. It was cheap then, it is a rather tony address now.My roommate was another painting student named David. I lost track of him long ago and I believe he may have died in unfortunate circumstances many years ago. He was a fine young man and had far more talent than I.
W e were both making painted copies at the Boston museum. Every day we would walk there with our French easels and drop cloths and work in the European galleries making copies of the old masters. I was copying the "Head of Isabela Brandt" by Rubens and he was copying the Jan Van Goyen of a river fort. Both of us were confronted with a nagging problem.
The visual draftsmanship we were being taught did not give us results anything like the things we were copying. If exact reproduction of what was in front of us was the goal, then we knew half a dozen of our fellow students were some of the greatest artists to have ever lived. I knew that was not so,which meant there was a gaping hole in our philosophy andwe needed to figure out what the GREAT masters were really up to.This was the turning point in my painting as I set about on a long quest for those other things. I will tell you more in the next post, until then, God bless.