Editor's note: The following 1994 article was published on August 19, 2004 in Resource Library with permission of Thomas Daives, New Canaan, CT. If you have questions or comments regarding the article please contact Mr. Daives by writing to the author at 58 Beacon Hill Lane, New Canaan, CT, 06480.


Sharing Your Paintings


"It's Better Than Selling Hot Dogs"

by Thomas Davies



Perhaps the most difficult piece to instantly appreciate is a pastel of New York by A.C. Goodwin. Analyzing this piece took careful observation and a sensitive description;

"This picture is a wonderful study in subtle shading and values, creating a penetrating yet pleasing image through the careful manipulation of colors and values. His coloring is perfectly harmonized, while his delicate sensibility to the relations between light and color gives his vision its quality. Although this painting may seem melancholy, it was not the intent of the artist.
I believe this painting has a certain gentleness within the flow of the shades of color which gives the painting its appealing look. It is shaded with such perfection that it may be taken as a realistic painting when in actuality it is an impression. The foreground is dark colored to give one a sense of closeness, while the background is lightly shaded, giving the painting its balanced look. Goodwin uses atmospheric perspective to create a truly balanced painting, while his monochrome color scheme makes a unifying effect. This pastel cityscape demonstrates the use of composition at its very best."

As a body of student evaluation, some of the sharpest observations as well as dramatic commentary focused upon figural pieces; genre, portraiture, historical. People, after all, do identify with other people. Sometimes small observant details were mentioned, as in Arthur Meltzer's Woman with Guitar,

"Also in his painting the lady's eyes have a great deal of emotion as do her hands."

Thomas Waterman Wood's portrayal of a proud Black woman was perceived as follows,

"Wood shows the maid as a gentle person. He catches her at an unexpected moment. She didn't pose for it."

Some new interpretations of a painting were also registered. Gerald Cassidy's portrait had always been envisioned by me as a proud portrayal of a Navaho Indian brave; not so by the student critic,

"Cassidy depicts in this painting a Navaho brave. The obvious sadness for obvious reasons of this Indian is shown in his posture and facial expression. The Indian seems in pain. This painting's corniness is dispelled by the fact that it was created in 1915, a time when few people knew or cared about the terrible suffering most Indians where enduring under the American flag."

The work of Gilbert Gaul depicting a Civil War Soldier generated a very emotional response;

"Gaul captures so much emotion in this painting. The color scheme brings into focus the pain of the soldier. The desolate background emphasizes the despondency of the moment. Gaul's love for the military enabled him to understand the feelings of the soldiers and reproduce them on canvas. This painting exemplifies his compassion for the man. This painting reminds one that the army is made up of individuals whom Gaul thoughtfully portrays."
"I find this painting appealing because of the real emotion that is shown. The anguish of the soldier is so genuine the painting almost has the feeling of a photograph. I like the way Gaul portrays the soldier in such a soft manner. The harshness of war is brought to an individual level, which creates an attractive picture."

An extremely colorful and boldly rendered pair of paintings by Louis Betts provided the opportunity to see how two different students assessed two similar pieces by the same artist. Many of the observations about Louis Betts were similar;

"During a few summers in the 1920's he took time and retreated to Old Lyme, Connecticut. It was here that he did a small succession of figure pieces of ladies. These paintings were usually outdoors, in gardens, with parasols. He insisted on simple and beautiful costumes. They seemed to capture the delicate and sensitive part of Betts. I feel Betts' paintings are very colorful and light. Because they are reflecting Betts' happy character, they seem to capture my own."

The second piece by Betts generated an imaginative description of the artist;

"One might picture Louis Betts sitting in a park with an easel and paints, looking for a good composition. His eyes would fall upon this woman, and he would begin to paint, on the spot, freely. Betts was trying to capture this moment; however, he wanted to leave the imagination of the viewer to decide the rest of the scene, like a choose-your-own-adventure story."

A specific portrait of the artist's wife by Richard Schmid inspired the student to define how the artist would wish the viewer to see his wife;

"This piece, 'Portrait of Wife,' is done in oil paints. It is of Schmid's wife quietly sewing. He has used the multi-colored fabrics to form a wonderful contrast with the white blouse. Schmid also uses a low color scheme and a dark background, which puts more emphasis on his wife. Schmid's use of chiaroscuro makes his wife look more delicate and portrait-like. While looking at the painting, I think that Schmid would want you to think about it as a delicate, mellow-toned portrait because of the use of the low color scheme. In this portrait of Schmid's wife, the personality which seems to emerge would be more or less a kind, sweet, and shy personality."

The concluding piece is a deeply moving illustration by Dean Cornwell depicting newly arrived immigrants at Ellis Island. The student that chose this piece not only captured the diversity of origins and feelings, but concluded her work with a very moving poem;

"This portrait interweaves anguish, excitement, and curiosity into one. The feelings that he portrays in this piece vividly capture those of the actual event and time period at Ellis Island. It pictures newly arrived immigrants with different reactions, hopes, and anticipations of the America before them and all that the package has in store for them."
I am in the face of curiosity,
I am about to face my future, my destination.
America is this buried treasure in my life,
And I am the key to unlock all of the doors.
Here is my Island to lead me to this future,
I overlook eyes full of feelings.
I await my new life,
Anxiously, excitingly.
I am stepping into a new world,
Knee-deep in freedom.
Ellis Island has been the perfect fit for my first key,
The first door of my New Life.

In case any of you are wondering about my commitment to "be involved" in my childrens' school, after we finished the project, I have never been asked again (for fear I'll do another one) and I have never "sold hotdogs at the Saturday afternoon football games". Sharing Your Paintings... is far more rewarding.


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