Friday, May 29, 2020

Schoonover Recalls Howard Pyle's Nature Excursions

Howard Pyle and Frank Schoonover
Illustrator Franklin Schoonover said that it was Howard Pyle's custom to take his students on frequent excursions through the low hill country of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

 "Upon these gentle voyages through field and woodland, there was the subtle pointing out of a purple, of broken color in a whitewashed wall, of all the delicate gradations of tone and value, the knowledge of which is not always accredited to the varied equipment of an illustrator. I recall most vividly an October day, clear and cool, with a touch of winter in the hazy air. 

Frank Schoonover at the easel
"With easel and canvas within the shadow of a barn Mr. Pyle had been working from the models — a team of white horses and a plough-boy, posing in the autumn sunlight. As the light of afternoon faded and the chill of a frosty air crept up from the valley, the artist laid aside the brushes and called some of his pupils to go with him in search of adventure. 

"We were glad to relax and to enter into a short interval of, perhaps, well- earned rest. We followed the windings of a small stream that brought us finally to a broad opening and the summit of a hill. On the crest of this gentle knoll stood an oak — a wonderful, radiant picture, silhouetted against the sky. Mr. Pyle stopped and drank it in as one athirst. 

 "'Look,' he said, 'just look at it!; 'It's like the exquisite creation of a worker in metal, a great yellow thing with plate after plate of burnished gold towering up against the arch of heaven.' 'Yes, that is it,' he continued, with a tenderness and reverence so characteristic of him. 'After all, it is not a mere inanimate tree with its leaf turned yellow, it's fashioned as a human being with a trunk, arms and fingers, all clothed in shining garments, standing there to reflect the glory of the Divine Maker.'" 

"How, simple and how true it was. I doubt if a single one present that October day has forgotten the translation of what might otherwise have appealed as commonplace, into a world of divine purpose, leagues beyond the shell that surrounded our own feeble efforts."

Exploring nature together with reverence and common purpose was a central part of Pyle's teaching.
From "Howard Pyle" by Schoonover


CerverGirl said...

Thank you for such educational posts. Until reading your blog, I had not heard of Howard Pyle, nor until now, Franklin Schoonover. At least this way I/we have access to knowledge of such an array of masters, students, teachers, and the integrity of their work and consciousness.

Chris Beaven said...

Love this! It reminds me of Robert Henri and his love for everything and how an artists purpose is expressing himself/herself and their own idiosyncratic vision. More than just copying what is seen but communicating emotional response.