Back to school

17 Aug

I write with a pencil, ever since high school AP English. My teacher edited papers with a pencil, to be less abrasive, and I picked up on it (and when I became an editor and then college instructor, I learned it’s easier to make change suggestions).

At this time of year, the crisp morning air makes me want to go out and buy a batch of fresh pencils. Thoughts of school, a chance for new beginnings at the end of the calendar year, is something I miss – it just isn’t the same being in front of the classroom.

School shopping for me was a little different while in school. If anyone went to high school in New York State, you know about the required majors for a Regent’s diploma. Somehow, at the end of junior high, I was placed in an advanced art class. So, in my batch of pencils, paint brushes and spatulas were thrown in.

Many believe genetics play a huge part in our capability to be creative. I think this may be true, as I never aimed to be a painter, yet I come from a family of artists. One of my aunts, Aunt Linda, is embarking on a venture to learn how the old masters, such as Rembrandt, painted. This fall she will be studying this style at the Angel Academy of Art in Florence, Italy.

These methods are time consuming, but produced luminous, deeply beautiful paintings. Currently, there is a renaissance (no pun intended) going on in the art world. There is a very select group of artists that are exploring the methods of the old masters, including my aunt.

A sketch from photo to paper, in pencil

“As the name suggests, these artists shun the modern style in favor of these time-tested methods. If done well, the work is really beautiful,” she said. “I am very disappointed in my work because I did not get to finish it. So for now, I have put it aside and will pick it up again when I return from Italy.”


Visitors admire a portrait painted from an old photograph

After a recent visit to her studio in Western New York, I begged to differ. There I was able to see some pieces she was working on. One of my great uncle who passed away and another of my great-grandmother, as a young woman; I would say it’s already a masterpiece. Aunt Linda plans to work on it when she returns.

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