Friday, February 10, 2012

Our visit to see Henry Hensche Fashback Friday #6

This was one of the pastel portraits I did the first summer in Gloucester. It is of Jakki Kauffman who was one of the monitors in Dan's classes. I painted her two or three times and the other monitor Tom Dillion two times as well. They were great models and great artists.  In this portrait I left the arm on the left side and the hands in the lower part of the painting to disappear into a vignette. The surface was darker than middle tone paper and the colors were tricky to make sure that the portrait did not look too "chalky" On darker surfaces, one must be very careful not to go too light too fast. You must plan, evaluate your colors and values and make accurate decisions. Some students want to acheive perfection too fast and too easily. It is work.

My marks with my pastel are very personal and have a style (just like handwriting) and I try not to lose them as it is part of me and my artistry. When I work in oil however, I seem to lose that naturally unless it is an oil sketch.






This is a little pastel I did in class that was of a model who was a 14 yr old daughter of one of Dan's students . The mom's name was Joyce. This pastel was not a portrait but more than a three quarter view of the young girl. The body position told a story and the age of the model revealed. Even though the head size was small and just a profile, I took great care to make sure her likeness was precise. I have always taken great pride in my drawing accuracy and the ability to achieve a likeness as well as an emotion. Once again I chose to work on paper much darker than middle tone so my challenge was to not use too many lights and to creep up on my lighter tones with intense darks and middle tones, paying close attention to both warm and cools.


This is me, my dear friend Lillian and Joyce (and my son Adam peeking out of the screen door. This is a little cottage that Joyce and her children rented in Cape Cod during the time she also studied with Dan in Gloucester. Lillian Updike rented out space in my Gloucester Cottage one summer for 2 weeks and stayed for 6 weeks. Lillian and I hit it off big time and her southern accent, hospitality, caring , dedication and thoughtfulness made us friends for life that summer.

One day Lillian and I thought it might be a good idea to drive from Gloucester down to Provincetown in Cape Cod to meet Henry Hensche, the famous colorist who studied with Charles Hawthorne.We called Joyce to make sure we could stay overnight with her.  I called ahead of time to make an appointment with Hensche and we planned a weekend of exploration and art learning. My sons, Adam and Aaron came with us so I rented "roller skates" for them in Provincetown to keep them moving and out of trouble. I thought that if they were mobile and moving fast they would have little time to think of anything else! 

We arrived in Provincetown and drove past Hensche's house to make sure we knew the directions before our appointment. Out side in the garden, was an elderly but fit man who was bare chested and golden brown from the sun.  I stopped the car and Lillian rolled down her window and asked if he was Henry Hensche? He replied "In the flesh" and proceeded to give us a lecture on eating organic carrots. He claimed that it made a difference in how an artist could see color." If you study with me" he said "you must eat lots of carrots"  After rolling up the window of the car, Lillian and I drove off laughing with amazement of our first meeting with him.

At the designated hour (and after checking on my roller skating sons) Lillian and I returned to Hensche's house and studio to have our appointment with him. It was really my appointment to show him my portfolio and get some feedback. His lovely wife met us at the door and offered each of us tea in the waiting room filled with many Charles Hawthorne drawings and paintings.  As we waited our turn, there was a nervous young New York gentleman who went before us to show his portfolio to the master colorist. We could hear the loud voice of the master artist critiquing the young artist and by the end of the dissertation, he told him he should just give it up and find another profession! OUCH!

I went in next to Hensche's studio to show him my work (mostly portraits) and as he looked at them carefully, he commented about the good drawing and made a positive sound with an HMMMM. Then he said "You studied with Elmer Greene with that garish color !" He encouraged me to study with him and of course eat more carrots!

If you look at Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown and check out the history, You will learn much more about this historical figure in our American Art history.

In fact it was during these few short years beginning with the loss of Norman Rockwell in 1978, We lost these amazing American Artists:
  • Norman Rockwell
  • Ives Gammel
  • Emile Gruppe
  • Robert Brackman
  • Laos Marcos
  • and finally Henry Hensche
Lillian and knew it would be special to meet Hensche and to see what he was like and to get a critique by him was frosting on the cake.

Lillian Updike and I spent many times together after our Dan Greene studies and I will talk about them in later blogs.Lillian has "never retired" to Brevard, NC and has a breathtaking studio and paints for herself in her youthful eighties! Her brilliant and accomplished surgeon husband Eddie spends his days on their idyllic little farm and he naps in the barn after reading his books with the lovely animals they have acquired.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful memories, Claudia. I so enjoy reading them.

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