Monday, April 12, 2010

Not continued

I could not say continued for this will be an attempt to tell you what happened between the time Anna was less than a month old and when she went to college. First we had Martha and a year later we had Jane. And when Jane was born I was disconnected. My MD was worried that the negative blood situation (can you tell that here that I am faking it? I can't remember the right word. But Martha was born slightly anemic and Jane had to have a transfusion.) We were so lucky to have four healthy children.

And that was when I was going to fill my time with projects that could make money. Hence art classes. I had four children who were five and under. I spent as much time as I could painting and drawing. As my talents seemed to be in the portrait area I was in the right place in Thomas Leighton's class. He was a stickler for details and it was good discipline to follow his instructions. The worst dressing down I got in his class was once when he felt I had not cleaned my brushes correctly. I felt like a ten year old about to get a beating. But I never allowed my brushes to dry unless they were cleaned in thinner and then soap and water.

His studio was near the old baseball stadium, on Bay street. I remember starting out early on my drive to San Francisco on Wednesdays. I had an hour or more to only worry about the car nearest to me. And then I of course worried about my car making it over the bridge. I drove a 1939 Chevrolet that we bought from Sam's partner. We called it the green hornet. Sometimes it refused to start, but I watched the repairmen we called to see how they fixed that problem. On the passenger side they lifted the hood, looked worried for a while and then they grabbed a thingamajig and jiggled it slightly and then the motor would start. I said to myself 'I can do that'. One day I was going out for lunch after seeing the dentist, and since the car wouldn't start, I took off my little white gloves and moved the thingamajig. When I lowered the hood, my dentist was standing there laughing. He said, I have a few problems with my car, when can you come over. ( I digress again.)

Thomas Leighton's studio was serene with two doves usually cooing in their cage. Always we enjoyed classical music. There was a fellow student who had an interesting past. She was a famous sharp-shooter and when she was young she had shared the stage with world famous shooters. On one occasion the Chicago Police department asked her if she would help them prove how safe a certain vest was for the force to wear. She or her agent agreed. In front of thousands she shot this policeman who fell down dead. He had forgotten to put the protective things into his vest. It was such a shock to her that she never shot a gun again. After much urging she brought with her the Chicago newspapers and it was interesting to read about all the investigations that followed. And to see how beautiful she was as a young woman. She was elderly when I met her.

Thomas Leighton was such a stickler in adding everything in detail into his paintings. I enjoyed the discipline but I did not like that kind of painting. We would have a professional model for four weeks And we would paint embroidery on her skirt and each hair shown correctly. One day on the last day of the model Mr Leighton said to me 'I think you are finished.' I said 'since there is half an hour left my I get a canvas in my car and just see what I can do' He frowned but said yes. In twenty minutes I finished the face of the model and I think it is the best painting I have ever painted. So when I heard of a teacher in Burlingame whose name was Peter Blos I tried to get into his class. He critiqued my paintings and said 'yes I could attend his classes.' His portraits were wonderful with loosely applied paint. He would mix a brushful of paint on his palette and then study the next stroke he was going to apply, and then he would add a little more amber and then study again to see if he now had the correct nyance. It was a discipline of a different kind.


Della said...

Oh, that poor woman when she shot the policeman! I cannot imagine how terrible that would be!

So when you moved the thingamajig, did the car start?? I'm guessing it did, since I think you're very clever that way, but I want to know. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my, where's is your autobiography. We all would buy it. I can never get enough of your life experiences.

musingegret said...

Who was the sharpshooter? Was it Annie Oakley?? Oh, Ms. Svensto---it's only a matter of time before some book agent comes knocking on your 'virtual door' with a offer to publish your Memoirs!!

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