Thursday, November 17, 2011

Schoonover Studios

Last Friday we visited Schoonover Studios in Wilmington, Delaware.

This cluster of studio buildings was once the workplace of some of Howard Pyle’s most famous illustration students, including Frank Schoonover, N.C. Wyeth, Stanley Arthurs, and Harvey Dunn.

In this 1908 photo is Harvey Dunn, Henry Peck, N.C. Wyeth and Clifford Ashley.

Frank Schoonover stayed on in the studios until his death in 1965. The studio rooms are still filled with the memorabilia of his life spent painting and exploring: snowshoes, canoe paddles, powder horns, paintbrushes, palettes—and lots of paintings. 

It’s all curated by his grandson, John, who welcomes visitors by appointment. From left: John Schoonover, Jeanette, me, Jean-Baptiste Monge, and Margo. Mr. Schoonover pointed out some pencil portraits that his grandfather did of trappers in the far north.

While John talked and showed us around, I couldn’t resist sketching his portrait in watercolor pencils. He has a lean, athletic face, with a twinkle in his eye.

To do a standing portrait of a moving, talking subject means having your supplies handy in a belt pouch while you’re working, because you have to keep moving around all the time to stay in front of your quarry.

Thanks, John!
History of the Schoonover Studios
Home page Schoonover Studios
Garin Baker took the interior photo and also did a post about the visit
Howard Pyle exhibition, also in Wilmington
Previously on GurneyJourney:
Video of Harvey Dunn
Schoonover on Color 

....and thanks to Charley Parker for the nice blog post on Lines and Colors about the Dintopia 20th Anniversary edition.


Paul Allan Ballard said...

How exciting, I didn't realize this was open. I definitely will have to make an appointment someday. I love the expression on the portrait, the mouth oddly seems to capture that twinkle.

T. Arispe said...

Sounds awesome. That must have been a lot of fun.

Unknown said...

'Schoonover' sounds Dutch or Flemish to me. Did he have ancestors from these countries?
And... how do you Americans pronounce that name? :-)

James Gurney said...

IVO, I'm not sure of the ancestry--maybe John can chime in--but as for pronunciation, I hear everyone say something like "SKOON-over."

Paul and Surfin' Yes, it's a great destination for fans of Pyle and his teaching. The studios are also a gallery for collectors who might be interested. It's really a labor of love to keep such a space open, and to pass on the living tradition to younger artists.

Bil Hardenberger said...

I visited Pyle's studio a year or so ago.. just dropped in.. figured it must be a museum.. but it is occipied now by a group of local artists and I was given a personal tour by someone who just happened to be working there that day. Well worth seeing if you have never been.

The Schoonover studio looks interesting as well. So much illustration history between Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley.

Sketching Artist said...

You may make a fanny pack cool again.

Aaron said...

Ivo and James, I almost certain it's German, maybe Prussian (a lot of Prussians spoke whats called low-German, which would have sounded a lot like Dutch).

My Pen Name said...

Got my Pyle book today from the Dinatopia store... can't wait to read your essay James! -

@ivo - not so much in delaware, but New York State is filled with dutch names often streams are 'kils' (FishKil) and across the hudson river is the "tappan zee' bridge, but many names become anglecized like "Red Hook", Kinderhook, Brooklyn, Flatbush and so fourth.

Gardenart said...

That must have been so interesting. I read an amazing biography of NC Wyeth that talked a lot about his connection to Howard Pyle.(N.C. Wyeth A Biography (by David Michaelis) Didn't your ancestor study under Pyle? Was this a place that she would have studied also? -Alice

David Teter said...

You said
"The studios are also a gallery for collectors who might be interested."

Are you saying they sell his original paintings from there?

James Gurney said...

David: Yes, John Schoonover is also a gallery dealer for his grandfather's work as well as for some of Frank Schoonover's contemporaries. Click on the Schoonover Studios link on the blogpost for John's website.
-from Jeanette G.

Unknown said...

Artist friend Ron Spears and I did the same thing as Bil- visiting both the Pyle and Schoonover studios the same day. John Schoonover was especially gracious during our visit. It was a very inspiring day. More photos here: