Saturday, May 31, 2008


I recently ordered The New Munsell Student Color Set.  Frank Reilly used Munsell's color notation in his methods, and Reilly's followers rely heavily on the Munsell system today.  As Marvin Mattelson is fond of saying, "Everyone else uses the Munsell system; artists are the only ones foolish enough to stick to the three primary system."  I sprang for a brand new copy, since the used ones already have the included color chips glued in place.  I felt I'd learn more by gluing the colors in their proper place myself.  Now that I have the book, however, my laziness is making me wish I had bought a used copy.  ; )

The Reilly Factor

Frank Reilly was a successful illustrator who went on to become one of America's greatest art teachers.  At the Art Students League of New York, Reilly taught Drawing, Color Abstraction, and Painting & Picture Making for 35 years, and America's best artists passed through his doors during that time.  His innovations as a teacher are still felt today, as his legacy continue to teach in his tradition.

Before I even knew who Frank Reilly was, I was continuously drawn to the work created by his students.  It's been interesting for me to find out that the artists I admire, and with whom I had chosen to study, were almost all from Reilly's line.  Whether the students followed Reilly's teachings to the letter, or chose to go a different route, it was obvious that Reilly had influenced their technique, and that many still employ his scientific methods and share his analytic approach to painting.

An early mentor of mine when I entered illustration was Eric Peterson, a gifted artist, who received some of his training at the hands of one of Reilly's students.  Eric is extremely talented and his intelligence shows through in all of his work.  Though we've lost touch, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of the lessons he so freely gave on everything from color to perspective.

Artists like Tony Ryder and Jacob Collins studied under Ted Seth Jacobs, one of Reilly's top students.  Though Jacobs later divested himself of Reilly's technique, there are still exercises from Frank Reilly that he uses when training his many talented students.

Jeremy Lipking received training at the California Art Institute, which was founded by Fred Fixler.  Fixler too studied under Reilly, and brought Reilly's methods to the West Coast.  CAI, the Watts Atelier, and the LA Academy of Figurative Art all teach methods handed down from Reilly.

Marvin Mattelson, with whom I studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, was already an established illustrator and teacher before he decided to expand his personal education by studying with a student of Frank Reilly.  Marvin now incorporates Reilly's methods when teaching students painting, though he has modified the palette to eliminate cadmiums, making it easier for new painters to control their color mixing.  It is amazing to see how quickly his students progress.

Other artists who count themselves part of Reilly's legacy include:  John Asaro, James Bama, Morgan Weistling, Glen Orbik, Tony Pro, Shawn Zents, and Jeffrey Watts, to name a few.

Reilly devoted his time to teaching, and helped train these many great artists.  The top lesson Reilly gave was his gift of teaching, which so many of his students continue to pass on to new generations.  Maybe you too have learned from a Reilly student, either through book, class, or workshop.

Happy Painting! 

Friday, May 30, 2008

Joseph Todorovitch

On Sunday, June 8th, I'll be heading down to the Two Rivers Arts & Antique Show at the Red Bank (NJ) Armory and Ice Complex.  The Wendt Gallery from California is hosting a solo show for Joseph Todorovitch.  I've seen his work in several magazines, and his painting, Kristin, won First Honors and The People's Choice Award at the 2008 Portrait Society of America Convention held earlier this year in Philadelphia.  I look forward to seeing more of his work in person.

Kristin                                 Joseph Todorovitch

Hawthorne on Painting

I'm currently reading Hawthorne on Painting.  So many people had spoken highly of the book, that I looked forward to reading it.  However, I've been disappointed so far. 

I feel I must give Charles M. Hawthorne the benefit of my doubts;  I don't think this is the book he himself would have written had he chosen to do so.  The book is mostly a collection of class notes, gathered and published posthumously by the artist's widow. Unfortunately, the reader is at the disadvantage of knowing little of what the work being critiqued actually looked like.  

His critiques can be contradictory:  for one student he tells them to see the color and then exaggerate it on the canvas; the next he asks why the color he put down was so vibrant compared to what was seen, and he reminds the student that the viewer shouldn't see the color, but the object being painted.  He then tells the next student to stop looking at the object, and just paint the color!  These observations are very difficult to comprehend without visual example, as maybe they seemed more in synch with the student's paintings at the time of the class.

Throughout the book, his mantra that painting is nothing more than putting one correct spot of color next to another, fills the pages.  He was an influential teacher, and many clambered to study with him in New England.  There is definitely something in his teachings, and there are kernels of wisdom to be picked out from the pages.  I just don't think that this might be the best representation of what he offered his classes.

His paintings are not my cup of tea, and so, I might also be biased.  There were other Americans painting at that same time whose work I liked much more.  If you have reasons why you feel I am under-appreciating Mr. Hawthorne, then please feel free to comment.  Well, time to finish the book, and move on to the next one...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Road Trip

I'm hoping to make a road trip soon up to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, and the Norman Rockwell Museum.  The two museums aren't too far apart.

The Clark will be having an exhibit starting June 22 called Like Breath on Glass: Whistler, Inness, and the Art of Painting Softly.  Included in the show will be works by Thomas Wilmer Dewing, of whose work, I've seen very few in person.

If you get there before me, let me know how it is!

A Manual of Oil Painting

I recently finished reading  A Manual of Oil Painting by John Collier.  

The first section of the book is about the practice of making paintings, and it is good, though a bit cursory.  Collier does not get into the particulars of technique, preferring to leave that to other authors in other books.

The second half of the book is about theory, pertaining mostly to vision.  That section was very interesting, and it did make me think.  It wasn't anything new, but it made me wish that the particulars of color perception had been explained to me this way when I was younger.

There are also several quotes by Collier in the book that I'd like to save.  Mostly they are about how the world will never accept untrained artists making bad art...  little did he know...

The book itself appears to be a bound scan of a previous printing.  It's a small paperback, and although it is nice to have, I'm not sure that the price is fair.  If it had been a Dover book, which it resembles, it would have been a quarter of the price.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Website/New Blog

I've finally posted a website, and I've been soliciting input from my friends.  Someone suggested I put up a blog, and I thought it was a great idea.  Unfortunately, now I have to come up with stuff worth reading.  Let's hope for the best...