I attended the School of the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986-87, mastering the Venetian Technique of oil painting. This proven system employs the use of a monochromatic under painting to develop form and composition before the color is painted on. The work ends up with many layers of paint that gives the final result a stronger body. Also certain color can only be achieved by the layering of tones. Thus the system lends itself to the exploration of representable creative work in oils.
Studying under Professor John Burns in his Technical Painting Class, I learned the tools of my trade. We started out copying an old master painting from a stack of prints he had in class. This lead to the making of gesso, sizing canvases with rabbit skin glue and learning the way a painting was constructed based on methods used by the Italian Masters. I have continued to use these methods not only on my easel paintings but in the construction of murals as well, which in my belief, insures the longevity of the works.
I also concentrated on drawing the figure with the study of anatomy, a practice I also continue currently. I believe an artist must truly understand the form one intends to represent. Knowing the figure from the skeletal structure outward makes the difference between drawing what you see accurately or merely copying the form.
I continued my education studying at the Art Student’s League in New York City, New York, again focusing on drawing and painting. I think the experience of living in the big city was as instructional as the classes I was attending.
Throughout the years I continue to attend drawing classes. As my grandfather, Thomas Hart Benton, would say: “painting is all in the drawing”. Whether you are holding a paint brush or a pencil, the same skill apply to all the mediums used in art.
Image courtesy of Jaxon White