Friday, January 20, 2012

Painting Daniel Greene & Life in the Rockport Art Colony '79/'80 (Flashback Fridays #3 )

Watching Dan Greene teach, demonstrate, lecture and share day after day and week after week back in 1979 and 1980 was a rich education.  I observed his demos, listened to his lectures as well as each item he would share with us as his students. I also observed him as a subject for painting.  I looked at his gestures, poses and expressions and could not help but want to paint this man I learned so much from and respected as a gentleman. 

The first time I painted him was on a handmade board made by someone in NYC that has since passed away. He  made handmade boards from Museum board and he made them for Dan as well as the Wyeth's and other famous artists. The boards were beautiful and held a great deal of pastel and were made in very large sizes. I remember using a 40 x 60 in. custom board for a pastel portrait commissioned by the late Nancy Smedberg from Cheshire, CT of her and her two children. The pastel board man died with his secrets for making his special boards.

Anyway I had a small  10 x 12 in. piece of this fabulous board and created a pastel painting of Dan Greene in front of his easel in his typical theatrical stance and the entire Gloucester, MA studio in the background! I framed it and brought it to show Dan one day and he took it away and came back and said he wanted to swap paintings and would like I like the demo pastel he did of my son Adam for the painting I did of him. Yes!  I certainly would swap with Daniel Greene. So my little pastel painting of Dan is in his private collection and has been for many years now. Here is a small photo of it midway in it's creation.

I then proceeded to create another pastel of him, larger and more dramatic, on a handmade paper I purchased at New York Central Art Supply in NYC. I used an image of him after visiting his NYC apartment when picking up pastel surfaces. Here it is below....

This pastel is about 24 x 30 inches. It is very open and not tightly rendered but the color in the background is a favorite of Dan's. It is monastral green and it is a pigment we used when Dan taught us how to make our own pastels from scratch. I worked diligently on making purples, golds, darks and of course this incredible monastral green! Back then all of these colors were non existent in most pastel brands and there was a great need for these. So I had these little treasure boxes full of these rare colors I made. After a weekend of seriously making pastels at my own studio, my lungs were caving in and I realized how dangerous all of this could be. Thankfully today, we can  select and purchase large assortments of darks, golds, purples, and intense pigments. 

I remember one time Dan actually used chimney soot to create a good dark black pastel! Honestly I don't know why we call these wonderful pigments "pastels"  That implies they are light in color and value. Instead, I think they should be called "Pigments" and we should be "Pigment painting"

The young girl  in the photos below is Lisa Sue Smedberg.  I had painted her in a family's commissioned portrait and also a couple of other times as she gladly modeled for me, spent time with me and even visited me for a few days in Gloucester when I was studying. I was and am very fond of Lisa Sue. She visited me recently just before her beloved mother Nancy died. She grew into a gorgeous woman who works in the art field by the way.

Here is the pastel portrait commissioned back in 1979 of the Smedberg family, all from sittings! 40 X 60 in. and on that special custom made pastel board .

Lisa Sue resting and modeling for me 1980

Oil Painting of young Lisa Sue. How I loved to paint this young girl. She was delightful. After all I had three rugged boys, this was a change of pace. I always seemed to have an extra young girl with me, either art student, model or surrogate daughter!

Below is Lisa Sue posing with Daniel Greene 

I posed a second time for one of Daniel Greene's Oil Demonstrations and it was a profile of me. I never found my profile very interesting but he did. It is located on the right side of the photo above (next to Lisa Sue) and was very colorful I remember. 

Now I must tell you the story of the fisherman model on the left side of the above photo with the hood on. He had bright red hair with a large red beard and Dan of course found his looks intriguing and used him for a demo. It was spectacular and the fisherman wanted to buy the portrait. He couldn't afford the full price so Dan arranged to have a huge load of fresh fish delivered to my place! He asked if I would be willing to have a fish fry because he knew I not only liked to cook but knew I could pull this thing off! So I got busy inviting some other artists I knew in the area as well as whoever was renting out space in the cottage I had for the summer classes. What a group!

Top photo (below) shows a young hungry Charles Movalli in the center, Dan carefully choosing his cuisine, behind him a doctor who took classes, on the far left my son Aaron who will eat any fish anytime and out of the photo was artist David Hatfield, and the late artist and my dear friend Michael Stoffa

I think this happened to be a time when Greene, Movalli and Stoffa were all single and never refused a good meal!

Bottom photo is the well known Cape Ann painter and writer Charles Movalli thoroughly enjoying the local catch of the day and at far left is Joel Englehardt who was a local stained glass artist and close friend of the late artist Zygmond Jankowski who later became a very close friend of Charles Movalli.

Portrait of Joel Englehardt 1980

I remember one time someone caught some large squid and Joel and I decided we should cook them up, you know, calamari! We did not however know how to cut it up for use so we asked our "resident art student doctor" to help us out with it. It was like real surgery to get this squid dissected for the kitchen. It did end up a very good meal but we all laughed so much in the progress.

The doctor rented a room in my cottage for two weeks to study with Dan. He wanted to stay another week but I told him I had no more room. My cottage was bustling with artists, great art talk, good food and it was the happening place that summer. So I told Doc that I could offer him a cot in the hallway, and by God he took it! I rented a hallway!

1 comment:

  1. These stories are Marvelous, Claudia. Many thanks for helping to educate me. ~Joan