It has been a great pleasure to work with these artists. The dilemma for a professional painter is where to hang other artists’ works. It can be confusing when I collector walks into your studio and there are works from other artists. It kind of puts the collector on the spot, they don’t want to praising the wrong work. : )
That problem was solved during the quarantine, I hung these works in my bedroom. A refreshing break from my studio. Two paintings were their first works: the Sunset by Kelly Schlegel and the Pink Flowers by Chan Luu. Chan is a world famous and world-class designer, and cram-studied with me when she could find a segment of time in her international calendar. She is now painting incredible natural landscapes and still-lives.
The Screaming Man is Bradley Musgrove’s self-portrait. He was only 18 years old and being bullied by his postmodernist teacher (like the horrible Harvard faculty) and the other students because he wanted to paint representational works. They called him a fascist and imperialist pig (which the fucking teacher did not object to), he came to my studio 3 or 4 times crying from the abuse. He painted this self-portrait for his final project, finally the teacher defended him, but I think the only reason because the painting showed rage. Bradley tried hard to make a go of being a serious artist. About a 15 years after this he committed suicide. A few weeks before that he came to take a couple of classes with me … I wish he had said something. I think the portrait is genius in feeling, the composition is magnificent and expressive. What a loss to the world.
The Pool by Robin Crouch is a killer composition, kind of like a Hockney. There is a lovely dark landscape Pines by Nancy Beaver. She was using a plein air technique to tone the whole painting in dark and use towels to wipe off the lights saving the lightest areas for last–it is super quick, about an hour, Rembrandt-like, and fairly realistic. A complex realistic work and beautiful composition of Apples and Cup is by Anita Murphy. This work, and all of them, please my critical eye.
An insanely realistic piece is by Mary Woodul of the Silver Pitcher. Drawn live. It is interesting that I don’t teach realism as such, but discuss light, forms, depth, and composition. And then the student takes those where they want.
Other than Bradley, Melissa Hefferlin went all in to be a professional artist from early on. Huge talent and she is constantly growing and managing to survive the art world tribulations with her spirit in-tacked. Her over life-sized self-portrait was done her second year at Otis College of Art and Design. One of the most powerful charcoal drawings there is.
I wish I could do more and have a ton of students. And run an art department, be a critic for a news organization, or be a curator of the new movement of figurative art. I touch all those things but not with enough time as my art comes first — it doesn’t allow for split priorities. Still it all makes for a blessed existence. Grateful.
Michael Newberry, Idyllwild, 5/20/2020
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