Sunday, November 6, 2016

Pleissner's Story about George Bridgman

American artist Ogden Pleissner (1905-1983) remembered:

      "I studied with [Art Students League teacher] George Bridgman for one or two full days a week for several years. Somebody told me when I went to art school that I had to start by drawing plaster casts. So I entered the antiques class and used to do Venus de Milo and everything like that. I remember we had a two-week pose on the Winged Victory on a full sheet of Ingres paper. I had that Winged Victory down to a "T." God, I had it all. It was very pale and I didn't lean on the charcoal too much. I had every crack in it, every little chip. It was really beautiful, I thought."
      "Then Bridgman came along and he said: 'Very good, but you haven't got the action on the figure that you should have, the action between the ribcage and the pelvis.'"
      "He took a chamois and dusted the whole thing off, and then took a big black piece of charcoal and drew all over it. Nearly broke my heart. But he was a damn good teacher."


Riviera by Ogden Pleissner
See examples of Bridgman students' life studies at Illustration Art
Excerpt from the book: Art of Ogden M. Pleissner. The book is the only major one on Pleissner and is loaded with color reproductions of his watercolors and oils. It's out of print, but quite reasonable.
Previous post: How do you feel about a teacher drawing over your work? (59 comments)

10 comments:

Jessica P said...

I wouldn't complain if Mr Bridgeman drew over my work!!
Stape Kearns painted over a painting of mine at Snowcamp and instead of working on it more I left what he did and it is hanging on my wall.

I also wouldn't mind if you painted over any of my paintings! :)

mdmattin said...

I still keep and cherish drawings that my teacher drew over. He would always ask "Is it OK if I draw on your drawing? It's OK if it's not OK!"
Matthew

Roca said...

Every time a professor drew on top of my work I was horrified. I hated it. It felt like a violation. The worst example was a watercolor class I took where the teacher clearly wanted the students to be clones of his style. I don’t think there’s anything comparable in other subjects. If you want to show the student how you would do something, do it on another piece of paper.

Tom Hart said...

I never minded having a teacher draw over my piece. I considered it part of the learning experience, and never expected classroom work to necessarily result in a finished or show piece. My teachers always asked, and that was always appreciated though.

My Pen Name said...

if you are in a class you're there on the teachers terms. it's to learn from them, not create art, but get better at creating art. Also one of the most important concepts that erasing and drawing and/or painting over teaches is that the ability is in you - its not something random that happened. "if you found it once you'll find it again' a teacher of mine used to say when he told me to simplify the tones on the eye socket... "what lose all that detail' yes to save the painting.

I studied with Nelson Shanks he took a couple of messes I had and turned them beautiful works. I still have them on my wall.

Jim Douglas said...

Pleissner's work exhibits the seamless marriage of technical mastery and emotional expression. There is something for the engineer and the poet. His work immediately reminds me of another living master of watercolor and oil painting, David Curtis.
http://www.djcurtis.co.uk/david-curtis-recent-paintings.php

EB Snook said...

When I take a class, I plan on experimenting. I don't mind the instructor stepping in and making changes - it makes me think. Mostly it doesn't seem better or worse to me, just different. It is a challenge to incorporate the new direction into my work. I'm not always happy with the result, but analyzing it to figure out why it didn't work out, and whether or not I want to experiment further with that technique is always a good thing. I don't ever want art to become routine. The more thought I put into it the better it gets.

EB Snook said...

When I take a class, I plan on experimenting. I don't mind the instructor stepping in and making changes - it makes me think. Mostly it doesn't seem better or worse to me, just different. It is a challenge to incorporate the new direction into my work. I'm not always happy with the result, but analyzing it to figure out why it didn't work out, and whether or not I want to experiment further with that technique is always a good thing. I don't ever want art to become routine. The more thought I put into it the better it gets.

Roca said...

I don’t think it’s about being precious with your work. It’s about doing it yourself and respecting someone’s space. For example, when teaching a child how to do something, say use scissors, you demonstrate with scissors and another piece of paper, then you hand the child the scissors and paper and let him cut on his own. You should never take the scissors and cut his own paper for him. It’s only overbearing or exasperated adults that do that. As a teacher I apply this to everything. Demonstrate, but don’t do it for them. This should go for art teachers too.

Warren JB said...

Ouch. I could almost feel Pleissner's pain.

Looking at the ~60 comments under the older post, and here, I can see it's a topic with very strongly held views.
I think I'd agree with Roca. Being a quiet sort, I don't know if the idea of being randomly... shall we say 'artbombed'... sits well with me, regardless of the ability or fame of the teacher. On the other hand, for a 'disposable' sketch in a class, particularly one that I'm struggling with, I doubt I'd stew too much about it.
In one of the few art classes I've taken, that was the situation. Any tiny ability I thought I had abandoned me and I couldn't stop falling on my face. The instructor asked to take over and painted over large parts of the composition. I was practically glad of it at that point, but kicking myself that I couldn't work it up myself, and I was unsure of just what he was doing right that I couldn't. Rather than keep it as an example of his work (not spoiled by my parts, it isn't) it's more a cautionary reminder for times when I think I'm better than I am!