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
- "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
- "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
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
- "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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