In many art schools today students are encouraged to defy traditions, think outside the box, and perhaps even defile traditions. The fact is that even in their repudiation of traditions in art, they are acknowledging the existence of traditions. They simply forget that were it not for those traditions against which they rebel, they would not be here. Breaking with traditions is of course part of artistic tradition. Ironic isn’t it?
I freely acknowledge my debt to the legions of artists that have preceded me. I am grateful to them and stand humbly in their shadows. Artists from Sargent and Homer to Rex Brandt and Marilyn Simandle have left their mark on me. I feel indebted to the abstract expressionists for making me aware of the expressive power of marks and brush strokes of color. That long line of artistic tradition is something I am proud to be a part of.
I was at Mesa Verde once and picked up a little shard of pottery. Pressed into the clay was the finger print of that long ago Anasazi artist. That fingerprint. Suddenly instead of looking at a representative piece of pottery from an ancient civilization and culture, I felt a sense of brotherhood. This was an individual, a fellow artist, a part of my tribe of art travelers. I think that every piece of art I have been impressed by has contributed in some small way to what i am. I want to pass along as much as I can. I want to bear the torch for awhile and pass it on in that grand tradition of art.
I owe a special debt to certain artists for what they left behind. One such for me was Ted Kautzky who wrote a book called “Ways With Watercolor”. I found it in the public library when I was an art student. his work was so clean and fresh that I sought to emulate him. I learned a lot in the striving although my own inner pulse won out and my paintings do not look like his at all. His other book, “Pencil Broad strokes” was even more important to my artistic development. He was a master draftsman whose use of the broad stroke technique was incredible. My own drawing is a direct outgrowth of his examples. When people remark on my sketch books, I point them to Ted Kautzky. I never met him, but if I ever do in another life, I will thank him. I am including one of his drawings and one of mine so you can compare the styles. His is much more controlled and mine more free, but the influence is evident. Ted is on the left, Carl on the right.
Here are a few of the watercolor artists after Ted Kautzky who have had their share of input into my creative development. The input occurs at various points in our growth – usually just when we are ready to absorb what that artist has to give.All of these artist’s works contained evidence of sound design and expressive drawing, two fundamental skills and disciplines that cannot be overstressed. Without those a painting is just a showcase of technique, the frosting without the cake. Sometimes the influence may have been just one painting that rang a little bell when I saw it or studied it in a book. That influenced the next painting and that little spark continued into future paintings without conscious effort. This list is just a few, the list if complete, would be far too long. Of all of these I have met only one.
Mario Cooper, Henry Gasser, Phillip Jameson, Dong Kingman, Roy Mason, Tom Nicholas, John Pike, Ogden Pleisner, Don Stone, Frederic Whitaker, Andrew Wyeth, Robert E. Wood, Milford Zornes, Tony Couch, Charles Reid and Alex Powers.
Be a part of this glorious tradition. Learn all you can and pass it on.