Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Painting with Frank Mason

The two classic aspects of Frank Mason- One with his distinctive black smock in the classroom peering over a drawing with the utmost reverence as his hand guides the red ochre chalk over the paper, and the other as the landscape painter in suspenders and joyful countenance- it was infectious and the Art Spirit emanated from the man into others around him.

Painting in Vermont with Frank 3

More from Mason's class in Stowe Vermont.

Painting in Vermont with Frank 2

Some more views from my sketchbook

Painting in Vermont with Frank

Usually several of us would share a house in and around the village of Stowe, Vermont. For me , that was usually at the Faust House on mountain road. The house was situated near little Indian creek which paralleled the road that led to the ski resort. Behind the house was a beautiful view of mount Mansfield and sometimes I would simply walk to a spot behind the house with my paints and my dog Griz, and paint a sunset scene.

Frank Mason Landscape Painting Class

Every June since the 1970's, Frank Mason taught a Landscape painting workshop in Stowe Vermont.For an entire month a loyal following of students from Mason's Painting class the Art Students' League along with a smattering of students from all over the US and abroad,would paint the local Vermont countryside. For those of us fortunate enough to have attended these classes, they were a life defining moment and would influence our artistic vision through our entire lives.I kept a sketchbook with me at all times then, a habit I formed during my years of study with George Sotos,and recorded many of those moments where on a Saturday afternoon the class would assemble in Harry Burnham's barn,for the weekly Critique.One by one, Mason would critique all the paintings that the students were bold enough to bring in for his keen evaluation.These critiques were an important helpful lesson in objectivity as more than once I was brought back to reality, mostly gently, sometimes with a thud- as the veil was lifted from my eyes and the true appearance of the painting was revealed to me.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Congruency of Biceps

This illustration is from lecture blackboard notes from the Artistic Anatomy class that I teach at the Barrett Art Center in Poughkeepsie

A third Class Lever in Diagram

The Biceps Brachii of the upper arm and the Biceps Femoris of the upper leg share a offer an interesting shared function. The contraction of both muscles result in the action exemplified by a third class lever- where the Resistance ( gravitational vector or weight), lies between the Fulcrum(joint) and the Effort (Muscular contraction). Like a crane, this lever facilitates the maximum concentration of force against gravity, and is the primary force in trans-location of the body. What is fascinating is that the both muscle groups are located anterior and posterior of each other. Evolving from quadriped animal ancestors whose translocation imperative was the use of limbs oriented in the same direction for running, into an upright standing biped whose survival imperative was increased by their ability to grasp objects,the upper limbs migrated to face the front. As a result of this, the rotation of the thumb occurred- the first metacarpal of the thumb rotating along with its corresponding wrist bone, out of plane with the other four metacarpals. It would also appear that this entire process occurred after the earliest animal ancestor of man still had some use for a minimally grasping foot since the human foot shows evolution away from any grasping imperative. The tarsal bones have evolved to distribute weight more efficiently therebye resulting in fewer bones in the ankle. If this earliest ancestor had perfected its running imperative to survive, the hand as a grasping mechanism and the entire bipedal strategy would never have occurred.

Artistic Anatomy

Leonardo Da Vinci once said, "beware- O Artist, that your figures do not look like sacks of walnuts". This was a caution to the student of painting that the painted or drawn figure show to the viewer, a thorough knowledge of muscle and skeleton anatomy, and not just affectatious swellings on the skin. With this knowledge comes the power to create an authentic representation of the human figure .