Friday, September 24, 2010

A Blast from the Past

Last week Howard and I traveled to Chicago. As a Board Member of Oil Painters of America, he had official business. I, on the other hand, had business of the heart to attend to. Chicago is where I was born. Skokie is where I grew up. My roots go deep in that lovely land. Going to Chicago is always going home in my heart. I have family and dear friends there as well as memories, lots and lots of memories.

Vicki and Howard at the Art Institute

Chicago is a wonderful city full of culture, full of excitement and full of ART! ….. like, well, the ART INSTITUTE! Since both of my parents were artists, going to the Art Institute was a semi annual migration for my family. As a little child I regularly stared into the brush strokes of the greatest artists in the world.

Now, flash forward to last week, as my heart was getting a “filler up” of love, the anticipation of returning to the Art Institute was building once again. Saturday, my cousin Vicki, Howard and I boarded a commuter train (I love trains) and sped from Northbrook to the shores of Lake Michigan and the Art Institute. Vicki has had a membership to the Art Institute for many years, so needless to say she was eager to go again too. As a matter a fact, the paintings that we all loved, were like old friends to her. She knew right were each one was, around each corner and down each hall. What a delight.

Once we climbed the old stone stairs, the adventure began. Photography is allowed as long as the flash is turned off. Needless to say, I did take some photos that I want to share with you. I took whole paintings and parts of paintings, details that wowed me.

I photographed some amazing portraits, but right now I want to share the beauty of the hands and feet in some of these great paintings.

John Singer Sargent’s woman’s hand as she painted at the fountain…

Loose to tight, they are all wonderful.

Years ago, while studying drawing with Wynn Jones at Northern Illinois University, he was adamant that I draw the hands and feet accurately.

No matter how wonderfully I drew the figure or captured the portrait, my grade depended upon how well the hands and feet were drawn.

I thought about him and that class as I strolled the great rooms among the finest paintings in the world.

He was right, I thought. The greatest painting can be ruined with poor execution of the appendages at the ends of the legs and arms.

What a gift he gave me, the discipline to carefully study hands and feet.

By the way, because he told us that he would be grading us on the hands and feet, I made my room mates pose for me constantly.

Whenever we were sitting around in the evenings, I was drawing…. Fingers and toes, ankles and wrists, hands and feet… I made an A in Mr. Jones's drawing class, thanks to my hands and feet.