Archive for the ‘master of the month’ Category

Master of the Month :: Chris Ware

Chris Ware is an American comic book artist. He writes and draws stories using text and pictures. He is best know for his graphic novel, Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, and the comic book series where it began, Acme Novelty Library.

Franklin Christenson Ware was born in Omaha, Nebraska. He was inspired by paperback comics that he found in his grandma’s house. He drew his own comics every week, and published cartoons in his school newspaper, the Daily Texan.

Ware studied artists like Joseph Cornell, Windsor McCay, and Charles Schulz before arriving at his own “precise, geometrical style.” He describes his drawings as an attempt to write with pictures. “I figured out this way of working,” He said, “By learning from and looking at artists I admired and whom I thought came closest to getting at what seemed to me to be the ‘essence’ of comics, which is fundamentally the weird process of reading pictures, not just looking at them.”

Art Spiegelman noticed Ware’s work and invited the young artist to contribute to RAW, an influential anthology of comics. Being featured in those comic books gave Ware confidence and inspired him to study printmaking and self-publish his own books.

Ware moved to Chicago to study printmaking. During his first year at the Art Institute of Chicago, he was invited to draw comics for a local paper, New City. Soon after, Fantagraphics offered Ware a regular series. ACME Novelty Library became famous for its irregular format and impeccable design. It included his established comic strip characters like Quimby the Mouse, his own godlike version of Superman, and a semi-autobiographical character, Jimmy Corrigan. Ware used the books to experiment with comics and develop longer stories through installments. He drew Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth over seven years, and eventually republished it as a 380 page graphic novel about a lonely daydreamer who is given a chance to reunite with his estranged father. Ware’s achievements in art, design, publishing, storytelling, and typography have won him Eisner, Harvey, Ignatz, Rueben, and National Cartoonists’ Society Awards, the highest awards in the comics industry.

His mastery is recognized by the art and literary worlds as well. He was the first comic artist to be included in the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial Exhibition. His original comic pages were shown in the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt Museum and the Jewish Museum’s Masters of American Comics exhibition. Jimmy Corrigan was the first comic book to win the Guardian First Book Award and the American Book Award. His work can now be seen in posters, stores, toys, and any number of books and magazines including Art Forum, McSweeney’s, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Fortune 500.

Chris Ware lives today in Chicago with his wife and daughter. He publishes his own comics and is currently creating two new graphic novels, Rusty Brown and Building Stories.

Like most people, I am blown away by almost all of Chris Ware’s work. His “datebooks” and his most recent self-published comics strike a special chord. But my favorite Chris Ware comic is a lunchbox (above). I actually own this lunch box. I used it until it was beat to pieces. It includes all the craftsmanship, utility, humility, sadness, heart, and humor that I have come to expect from Chris Ware. And, even though it is a lunchbox, he obviously approached it as just another bold experiment in format. A comic strip winds itself around the box, from cover to cover, around the sides, into the box, and through a tiny mini-book that it contains. Plus, you have to love the intrinsic humor of a “Rusty Brown” lunchbox. It is one of many Chris Ware masterpieces.

Portrait of Chris Ware drawn by yours truly from a photo taken by Noah Sheldon and published in Tokion magazine.

Posted by admin on 05/01/12 under artists,master of the month
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Master of the Month :: John Everett Millais

John Everett Millais was a founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Their work was characterized by its bright color and accurate realism. His most famous painting, Ophelia, illustrated a scene from Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet.

John was born in England in 1829. He was a naturally talented child prodigy. He won medals for his drawings. He attended the Henry Sass’ Drawing School, and he was the youngest student to ever attend the Royal Academy of Arts in London. He was admitted when he was only 11 years old. His first painting was Pizzarro Seizing the Inca of Peru.

He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with two of his schoolmates, William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rosetti. The art movement was a rebellion against the classical poses and elegant compositions made popular by Renaissance artists like Raphael and Michelangelo. Millais and his friends wanted to paint with more detail, color, complexity, and realism. Some historians were considered their brotherhood the first avant-garde, or experimental, movement in art.

Millais won “lasting fame” when he exhibited Ophelia in 1852. The masterpiece demonstrated the painter’s expert skill and his Pre-Raphaelite ideals. Elizabeth Siddal lay fully clothed in a bathtub to model for the painting and, with special attention to detail and nature, John created the “pictorial ecosystem” that made his work famous.

The artist’s paintings of strong, beautiful women became symbols for the Victorian Era in which he lived. Later in life though, Millais also painted illustrations, landscapes, society portraits, and sweet, fanciful images sometimes used for advertising. He became very rich painting celebrities and royalty, and by reselling his paintings for use in books and posters. His critics accused him of “selling out” to become rich and popular. Millais defended himself though. He argued that he could work with greater boldness as he grew more confident as an artist.

John Everett Millais was elected to the Royal Academy in 1863. He worked as a teacher there, and he even served as its president until he died in 1896.

Millais and his wife had eight children. He was the first artist to earn a royal title for his family. And King Edward VII commissioned a statue of John Everett that can be seen today in front of Tate Britain, formally known as the National Gallery of British Art.

I knew nothing about John Everett Millais until I discovered this painting, The Blind Girl, in book of art for children. I love the poetry of the painting, its color, composition, execution, and idea. And it inspired me to research the artist himself. As a teacher, I found lots to share with my students, but my favorite subject was Millais’s use of sketches and models to create his illustrations. It is one of the magic tricks of art, I think, that artists can pluck an image from their minds and give it some reality in pictures or sculptures. A master’s use of references and preliminary sketches help me share that skill with my students.

Portrait of John Everett Millais drawn by yours truly

Posted by admin on 04/28/12 under artists,master of the month
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Master of the Month :: Richard Neutra

Richard Neutra is considered one of Modernism’s most important architects. Like other modern architects, he designed buildings using simplified shapes and forms. Some of his most famous structures are the Kaufman Desert House in Palm Springs, California and the Cyclorama Building in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Little Richard was born into a wealthy Jewish family in 1892.

His family lived in Hungary before most of them moved to the United States. His sister, Josefine, was an artist. Her drawings inspired Richard to study art. He went to school in Vienna before moving to America in 1923 and becoming a citizen in 1929.

Neutra was admired for his beautiful watercolor drawings. They were an architect’s response to the work of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. Unlike those artists, Richard preferred to draw his travels. He drew people he met and the places he visited. Particularly during his trips to the Balkans in World War I.

In the United States, Neutra worked for Frank Lloyd Wright before moving to California to live and work with a college friend. In the early 1930s, Neutra trained several young students who also became successful architects.

In his own architecture business, Neutra earned recognition for his geometric but airy buildings. But he was especially respected for his ability to understand the real needs of his clients. Unlike other architects who liked to impose their own ideas on a client, Richard Neutra used detailed questionnaires to discover his client’s needs. The houses he built were a blend of art, landscape, and domestic comfort. They represented a West Coast variation of the mid-century modern houses that were becoming popular elsewhere in the country.

Richard Neutra died in 1970.

His son, Dion, kept his father’s office in Silver Lake, California and Neutra’s widow donated the Ven deer Leeuw House to the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. It is used today by the college’s Environmental Design students. Unfortunately, many of the other buildings that Neutra designed were destroyed after his death.

Modernism was revived in the 1990s though, and the respect of young architects gave new value to Neutra’s work. Some of those artists have even restored Neutra houses that had been falling apart. Thanks to those architects, historical associations, and thoughtful home owners; You can still see Richard Neutra’s work throughout California.

As an art teacher, I love teaching my students about architecture. I’ll seize any opportunity to prove that their art skills can be used outside the art room, and architecture is a gateway to furniture design, fashion, industrial design, and hundreds of other “unseen” art professions. Richard Neutra is an ideal artist to teach these things because (1) his amazing drawings prove that, YES, architects ARE artists, (2) he also designed some REALLY cool furniture, and (3), as a Modern architect, the simple shapes that he favored reinforce the most fundamental art skill: everything you see, no matter how complicated it looks, is made up of simple shapes. Oh, and (4) did I mention that he used to work right down the road from our school?

Portrait of Richard Neutra drawn by yours truly based on a self-portrait by Neutra and a fantastic illustration of him from the cover of Time magazine.

Posted by admin on 02/06/12 under artists,master of the month
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Master of the Month :: Georges Seurat

Georges-Pierre Seurat was a French painter best known as the founder of pointillism. His most famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, is an icon of modern art.

Georges was born into a wealthy Parisian family. He studied art with a sculptor before attending the Academy of Fine Art, École des Beaux-Arts. He served one year in the military then returned to Paris. For two years there, he devoted himself to mastering the art of black-and-white drawing. Then, in 1883, he began his first major painting, Bathers at Asnières. After his painting was rejected by the Academy’s Paris Salon, Seurat turned away from the establishment. He befriended other independent artists and, in 1884, they founded the Society of Independent Artists.

Seurat is a perfect example of artist as scientist. In his time, scientists were studying color, perception, and optical effects. To artists, Michel Eugene Chevreul was an especially influential scientist. His greatest contribution was a color wheel of primary, secondary, and tertiary hues. Chevreul realized that the ‘halo’ that one sees after looking at a color is actually the opposing or complimentary color. (After looking at a red object, for example, you can see a cyan echo of the original object.) By studying these effects, Chevreul discovered that two colors placed very close together will look like another color when seen from a distance. This discovery became the basis for modern color printing and for pointillism – in which small dots of pure color are painted in patterns to create an image. Seurat used this scientific approach to create vibrant, shimmering works of art.

Seurat also theorized that optical science could be used to create emotion in art. His theories have been summarized simply: Happiness is painted with an abundance of bright, warm hues, and by lines going upward. Calm is painted with a balance of light and dark, a balance of warm and cold colors, and by lines that are horizontal. Sadness is painted with dark and cold colors, and by lines pointing downward.

Seurat used these theories to create his masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. It took two years to complete the 10 foot painting. Seurat painted about sixty preliminary sketches in the park before he finished the painting in his studio. The sketches can be found in museums around the world. The painting itself can be seen in Illinois at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Seurat got sick and died in 1891. He was 31 years old. His 500 drawings alone establish the painter as a master artist, but he is remembered today as a leader of the neo-impressionists, and, of course, as the father of pointillism.

For an art teacher, there is a lot to love about Georges Seurat. His mastery of color translates to any of many color theory lessons, and student studies of his work are always exciting to see. I like Seurat best though as an example of artist as scientist. Art students need to see how much research, practice, and experimentation goes in to a masterful work of art. Most importantly though, we all need to be reminded how how science, art, and other disciplines play off of each other and even overlap.

Portrait of Georges Seurat drawn by yours truly. A Sunday on La Grand Jatte was painted, of course, by Seurat. Click the image for a larger view. Even online, the brushwork is breathtaking.

Posted by admin on 12/07/11 under artists,master of the month
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Artist Appreciation: Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry is an American cartoonist and teacher best known for her comic strip, Ernie Pook’s Comeek, and What It Is, an instructional “autobiofictionalography” for which she won an Eisner award.

Linda Barry grew up in a diverse neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. Her parents divorced when she was 12. She changed her name to Lynda that year. While finishing high school, she worked seven nights a week as a janitor at a hospital. She went to the same high school as comic book artist, Charles Burns, and the same college as Simpsons creator, Matt Groening. Groening credits Lynda for teaching him that “You could do anything.” He published Lynda’s Comeek in their school paper. He even asked her to marry him according to one internet rumor. The two remain close friends, referring to each other in comics as “the Funk Lord of USA” and “the Funk Queen of the Galaxy.”

After college, Lynda Barry sold her comics to alternative newspapers like the LA weekly. She published a series of comic books, drew cartoons for Esquire, and appeared several times on Late Night with David Letterman. Her comics focused on telling funny, sometimes painful stories using unselfconscious, child-like cartoons. The artist described her first book, Boys & Girls, as “a lot of love information” drawn in the “crude style that has rocketed me into fame.”

Over time, Barry’s cartoons shifted focus from relationships to childhood. In books like My Perfect Life, It’s So Magic, and The Greatest of Marlys, Maybonne and her sister, Marlys, starred in stories loosely based on the artist’s childhood. Barry also wrote two novels, Cruddy and The Good Times Are Just Killing Me which was later turned into a play.

Barry’s work took another turn when she created a Zen comic strip for One! Hundred! Demons! was inspired by a Buddhist painting technique in which an artist waits for “demons” then paints them as they come. Barry’s demons included regret, abusive relationships, self-consciousness, and lice, among other things. The comics were more autobiographical than usual. They were drawn with a brush, and augmented with collage. The book also included instructions for readers who might want to try the one hundreds demon project. These changes set the stage for Barry’s next two books.

What It Is and Picture This might be considered the text books for Lynda Barry’s inspirational writing workshop, Writing The Unthinkable. She teaches the class fifteen times a year at colleges and writing conferences around the country. “We’ll be working with this question in mind,” Barry writes in the course description, “If the thing we call ‘the arts’ has a biological function, what is it?” The answer focuses on the emotional and physiological importance of play, and the ability of everyone to make art. The workshops pass on the writing and creativity techniques that Lynda learned from her own teacher, Marilyn Frasca.

Lynda Barry lives with her husband in Footville, Wisconsin. She works in “a free-standing, sun-filled studio overstuffed with scrap paper, art supplies and knickknacks given to her by students.” You can read her comics, buy her art, sign up for her classes, or check out her favorite Youtube videos on

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite piece by Lynda Barry because I have been affected by so much of her work. Visually, I definitely prefer her more recent, more colorful, more densely collaged books. Emotionally though, I am still moved by Maybonne’s observation that “You never know when the beautiful magic of life will happen to you. You never know when all the stars will fall from the sky.” And I am always inspired by joyful, spirited Marlys. Who just might be Lynda Barry’s alter ego.

I have read several descriptions of the transformative effect that the Dalai Lama has on people who meet him. People are calmed supposedly, awakened to joy, even inspired to live more compassionate lives. It’s weird to compare Lynda Barry to His Holiness, but I have met her several times and I have spoken with other people who have met her; The comparison in this case is apt. Even in brief encounters, Lynda Barry makes people feel special. She makes the world seem wonderful, despite the pain. She makes art and writing seem possible and necessary. More importantly, she inspires me to be kind and to do my best. As a teacher myself, I can not imagine a better role model. Lynda Barry is my hero.

Posted by admin on 11/01/11 under artists,master of the month
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Master of the Month :: Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse was the most important French painter of the 20th century. The leader of Fauvism, Matisse was especially famous for his bold use of color.

Believe it or not, Henri Matisse wasn’t interested in art when he was young. In fact, he studied law in school and graduated to work in a legal office. As a hobby, he sat in on drawing classes. When he got sick with appendicitis, Matisse taught himself to paint. First by copying pictures then by decorating his grandparents’ house. Eventually, he gave up his legal career to become an art student. He had a lot of different art teachers. One taught him technical skills, another encouraged him to find his own “personality,” and his final teacher forced him to leave school and become a professional artist. Even then, Matisse continued to visit art classes where he could learn more and more about printmaking, painting, and sculpture.

Unlike other artists, Matisse wasn’t interested in acting or dressing like the avant-garde. Matisse was only interested in working hard. “I plunged head down into work,” he said later, “I hurried up in my work, pushed by I don’t know what, by a force which today I perceive as being foreign to my life as a normal man.” This work ethic affected his entire career.

After all this schooling, Matisse enjoyed an immediate success. The French Government bought one of his paintings! After that, the artist became braver and more experimental. He travelled and met other painters. He used more intense hues and created “a minor scandal” with his unusual colors.

He made friends with other modern artists. His art was included in their shows, but he didn’t make very much money. His first one-man show was a failure. His wife, Madame Matisse, oped a dress shop to help support her husband and their three children.

Inspired by a trip to the Mediterranean Sea, Henri enjoyed an artistic breakthrough. He painted quickly and creatively with brave combinations of color. He created two famous paintings in this style, Open Winter and Woman with the Hat (which was a portrait of his wife). The paintings were shown with work by similar artists. Because of their “violent” use of color, a critic of the show called the artists, “Wild Beasts” or “Les Fauves” in French.

In no time at all, Fauvism was recognized as a new art movement. Matisse was acknowledged as its leader. Gertrude Stein, a famous art collector, began to buy Matisse’s art. With her support, the artist showed his work in Paris, New York, Moscow, and Berlin.

Fauvism didn’t last long. The “Wild Beasts” went on to become expressionists and cubists among other things. Matisse continued to love pure, vibrant color. He used that color and his many traditional art skills to simplify his drawing and create dramatic, playful patterns. He created sculptures, stained glass windows, and sets for plays and opera. He published books of black and white etchings, admired for their simplicity. He also wrote a book called Jazz. It recorded the artist’s ideas about art and life. Matisse illustrated the book with colorful paper collages, a technique he called “drawing with scissors.” The book later inspired Matisse to create similar cut-outs the size of murals.

When Matisse grew old, he was sick and bedridden. Some artists might be sad to be stuck in bed. Not Matisse, he worked from bed by drawing with crayons attached to a very long pole. His final compositions are some of his most joyful, daring, and skillful works of art. Matisse died in 1954.

As an art teacher, I could not invent a more inspiring subject than Henri Matisse. He was a master artist who never lost his taste for learning, creation, or experimentation. His sampling of numerous art forms could inform any number of studio projects. Most unusually, Matisse wasn’t even that interested in art until he was in his twenties; This is a historic invitation to every reluctant art student: It’s never too late to start!

Matisse created too many of my favorite works of art for me to ever pick just one. That said, his portraits are an ongoing inspiration to me and his paintings tell me again and again not to take myself too seriously. Study the man!

Portrait of Matisse drawn by yours truly

Posted by admin on 10/01/11 under artists,master of the month

Master of the Month :: Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American street artist who achieved fame in the 1980s as an influential Neo-expressionist painter.

Jean-Michel was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1960. He learned to read and write by age four. By the age of eleven, Basquiat could fluently speak, read, and write French, Spanish and English. His teachers noticed his artistic abilities, and his mother encouraged her son’s artistic talent.

When he left home, Basquiat lived with friends and supported himself by selling homemade t-shirts and postcards. He and his friends began spray-painting graffiti on buildings in Lower Manhattan. They signed their poetic messages “SAMO.” A local paper published an article about the graffiti, but the SAMO project ended with the epitaph “SAMO IS DEAD,” inscribed on the walls of SoHo buildings.

In 1979, Basquiat started a “noise rock band” called Grey. He performed on tv, in music videos, and in night clubs like CBGB. A year later, Basquiat starred in a movie called Downtown 81 and was introduced to the famous pop artist, Andy Warhol. The artists became good friends and worked together on many art projects.

Soon after, Basquiat was included in The Times Square Show, a huge art exhibition. His paintings were dense painterly collages of words and images. They were covered with text and codes of all kinds: letters, numerals, pictograms, logos, map symbols, diagrams and more. Artforum magazine published a story about Basquiat called “The Radiant Child.” The story made Basquiat world famous as a Neo-expressionist. Neo-expressionists were sometimes called “The new wild ones” because their style was intentially rough and messy. The style emerged internationally as a form of uninhibited self-expression. By 1982, Basquiat was showing regularly alongside Julian Schnabel, Francesco Clemente, and Andy Warhol. He wore Armani suits when he painted, and often appeared in public in the same paint-splattered $1,000 suits. On February 10, 1986, he appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine.

Basquiat was an extremely successful artist. His paintings have sold for multiple millions of dollars. Several movies have been made about his life and art. Unfortunately, Basquiat was also lonely, sick, and frequently depressed. When Andy Warhol died in 1987, Basquiat became even more isolated. He died in 1988 from a drug overdose. He was 27 years old.

Basquiat’s Riding With Death (above) happens to be one of my all time favorite paintings. It may not look like much online but the actual painting is massive. The background is a field of broad and flowing gold brushstrokes. The figures seem to float upon it. In person, Riding With Death can set your mind adrift. I felt transported it.

Portrait of Basquiat drawn by yours truly.

Posted by admin on 09/05/11 under artists,master of the month
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Master of the Month :: Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell was an American illustrator most famous for the covers that he painted for the Saturday Evening Post magazine.

As a child, Norman won a scholarship to attend the Art Students League. He received his first illustration assignment at age 17 and created artwork for various magazines from then on.

In 1916, he sold his first cover to The Saturday Evening Post. He illustrated 317 covers for the magazine over the next 47 years. The magazine provided him with an audience larger than that of any other artist in history.

During the First World War, he tried to enlist in the U.S. Navy but was refused entry because he was underweight. He spent one night pigging out, and he weighed enough to enlist the next day. Norman Rockwell was given the role of a military artist. His contribution during World War II was a series of posters that symbolized the goals of the war. The series was inspired by a speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in which he described four principles for universal rights: Freedom from Want, Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship, and Freedom from Fear. The Office of War Information reproduced and distributed the posters, and the U. S. Department of the Treasury promoted war bonds by exhibiting the originals. Rockwell himself considered “Freedom of Speech” to be the best of the four. One version of it can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During the late 1940s, Rockwell spent the winter months as artist-in-residence at Otis College of Art and Design here in Southern California. His students there occasionally modelled for his Saturday Evening Post covers.

In 1977, President Gerald R. Ford presented Rockwell with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – America’s highest civilian honor – in thanks for the artist’s “vivid and affectionate portraits of our country.” Though loved by the public, Rockwell’s work was dismissed by some art critics. They considered his paintings too sweet, too idealized, and too sentimental to be taken seriously. Critics referred to him as an “illustrator” instead of an artist, but Rockwell didn’t mind because that’s what he called himself.

In his later years though, Rockwell received more attention as a painter. He chose more serious subjects like a series on racism for Look magazine. The Problem We All Live With, for example, was a painting of a young black girl walking to school defaced by racist graffiti.

In 1999, The New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl said of Rockwell in ArtNews: “Rockwell is terrific. It’s become too tedious to pretend he isn’t.”

Rockwell’s original paintings and drawings are collected and cared for near his home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The Norman Rockwell Museum is still open year round.

Portrait drawn by yours truly

Posted by admin on 04/03/11 under artists,master of the month
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Master of the Month :: Alice Neel

Alice Neel was known for her Expressionist portraits of both famous and ordinary people.

Neel was the fourth of five children. She grew up in Colwyn, Pennsylvania, a small town where she did not fit in. From an early age, Neel wanted to be a painter. To please her parents, she worked in clerical positions as a teenager. She found those jobs stifling though. So, she took art classes at the Moore College of Art, the first college of art in the United States for women. During her time in art school, Neel learned about portraiture and trained to be a figure painter.

In the 1930s, Neel’s career was funded by the Public Works of America Project and by the Works Progress Administration. Her painting style was not very popular. Abstract art was in style at the time. She painted people though, especially her family and neighbors. She also did some still lifes, landscapes, and cityscapes. Her paintings had an unfinished look. Since she rarely painted on commission, she painted however she wanted.

By the late 1950s, there was growing interest in Neel’s work. Her colors and approach became bolder. The New York Times wrote “She laid brush to canvas in a plain, straightforward manner, using the paint not fancily but simply to convey an image.” In the 1960s, Neel received attention because of the portraits that she did of famous people including Andy Warhol. One of her subjects, Red Grooms, told the Washington Post, “She was famous for her X-ray eye, and for her cruel, biting line, that killer line that describes everything.” Theodore F. Wolff wrote “As an artist, Alice Neel always spoke the truth… Confronted by reality, she preferred to depict it as it was rather than as it should be… regardless of whose feelings were hurt or whose ideals were offended.”

In 1974, Neel was the subject of a retrospective at the Whitney Museum. This exhibit brought her more of an audience. Because she was able to explain her art so well, she did lectures in the 1980s. She painted her two sons and their wives. She also painted several portraits that became covers for Time magazine. Near the end of her life, Neel continued to paint despite illnesses including cataracts. Despite the growing appreciation for her work, Neel still did not sell many paintings. By her death, she owned most of her work.

Neel died in 1984 in New York. Many critics believed she was underrated in her lifetime. This did not matter to Neel though. She painted for her own reasons. In 1982, Neel told the New York Times, “I’ve always been interested, I’ve always been curious, and I’ve always had a profession. Painting is an obsession with me.”

Neel’s life and works are featured in the documentary film “Alice Neel,” which was directed by her grandson, Andrew.

Portrait drawn by yours truly.

Posted by admin on 01/31/11 under artists,master of the month
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Master of the Month :: Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry is considered to be “the most important architect of our era.”

The young artist, born Frank Owen Goldberg, was encouraged by his grandmother with whom he built little cities out of scraps of wood. His use of corrugated steel, chain link fencing, and other materials was inspired by his grandfather’s hardware store. His mother introduced him to the world of art and he spent time drawing with his father. “But my father thought I was a dreamer…” Gehry said, “It was my mother who thought I was just reticent to do things. She would push me.”

Gehry moved to California in 1947. He got a job driving a delivery truck, and studied at Los Angeles City College, eventually to graduate from the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture. After graduation from USC in 1954, he spent time away from the field of architecture in numerous other jobs, including service in the United States Army. He even studied city planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design for a year.

Gehry rejected the commonly held architectural ideas that form should follow function or that buildings should somehow reflect their environment. He was considered a “paper architect” until he designed his own home in Santa Monica, California. His intention was to “build a new house around the old and try to maintain a tension between the two.” The home, which is now a Los Angeles tourist attraction, jump-started his career. He achieved real fame years later when he unveiled The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Since then, he has earned countless urban commissions including his latest masterpiece, the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

In addition to architecture, Gehry has made lines of furniture, jewelry, various household items, and sculptures. He designed the trophy for the World Cup of Hockey. His company, Gehry Technologies, was responsible for innovation in architectural software. Gehry also teaches advanced design studios at the Yale School of Architecture and he is a Distinguished Professor of Architecture at Columbia University.

Frank Gehry lives in Santa Monica, California, and continues to practice out of Los Angeles. You can find him online at

Portrait drawn by yours truly.

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Posted by admin on 12/06/10 under artists,master of the month
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