Fritz (Fred) Lipp "Out There" Watercolor 2009a
Fritz (Fred) Lipp “Out There” Watercolor 2009a

We gathered today in our usual painting room at the Creative Workshop of the MAG. Most of us are long-time students of Fred Lipp’s and our week revolves around Tuesday’s class. A good percentage of the day class were there and our night class had a respectable showing but our teacher wasn’t there. He’s quite sick and we were meeting for two reasons: to discuss a tribute show in his honor and secondly, to determine how to carry on. I specifically did not say “carry on without him” because the gifts he gave us are ours to use.

As the group dispersed a few us were standing around taking about Fred’s teaching method. Bill Keyser was telling my father how he would have a list of things he was about to do and Fred would come by and say, “Forget about your plan. Look at your painting right now.” This in fact may be Fred’s most important point. Always stay open to what is on the page right now. “Painting is not a destination. It is an adventure.” Step back and look at the work. “Always address the worst first.” When the “worsts” are gone, your painting may be done.

I’ve searched my past posts and collected some of the lessons I am still learning from him. I find these truisms apply to most disciplines, certainly music.

The class was not about Fred’s work. In fact he rarely showed. The first thing I saw by him was a sculpture/installation in a Finger Lakes show, ripped open pieces of re-tread tires spewing at you from the corner of the gallery. It was sensational and it went on to the statewide exhibit in Albany. His class is called “Advanced Painting” and students work in collage, watercolor, acrylic, oil, drawing or sculpture. His methods are the same for all mediums.

There are no assignments. He rotates around the room addressing individual students as they work and pretty much says the same thing to each. He does not want you to talk first when he gets to you. “Don’t talk it. Show me.”

His stock of grey paper is his primary teaching tool. With this neutral grey he would cover parts of your work to show you what currently works. He’ll sometimes cover three fourths of your painting and tell you, “There’s your painting.

Many of Fred’s students say “he taught me how to see.” More importantly, I think he teaches us to trust our eyes. We already know how to see but we don’t trust it. If you have doubts about something in your painting that would be your eye talking. “If the question comes up, the answer is yes.”

Fred can be brutal. In many sessions the first class was the last we would see of a new student. He was brutal because he was honest and painters who did not want to learn left.

We visited Fred in the hospital last week and I asked him if any of his students had brought their paintings up to his room. He got a good laugh out of that one. A painting was never done until Fred pronounced it “done.” And it was just as often sooner rather than later than you expected.

Learning is a lifelong process. I’ve pulled these thoughts from my posts over the years. This link will take you to a page with all the posts on Fred.

There is no replacing Fred Lipp. He is one of a kind. He has been a mentor in every sense of the word and I am not alone. He packed the lecture hall at the MAG last summer with his presentation on spacial constructs, a comparison of three paintings from the MAG’s collection by Hans Hoffmann, Josef Albers and John Koch.

His daughter wrote that Fred is “the essence of art.” His ideals will live forever.



Paul Dodd "Model From Crime Page G" 2015
Paul Dodd “Model From Crime Page G” 2015

Beefheart’s “Circumstances” has been stuck in my head all night. Click here and could be stuck in yours’. It’s not like I heard it recently or anything. It just popped in.

I started this drawing this afternoon and finished in class. It still has a searching, coming into being feel. I like that and find the early, rough stages of my drawings the most exciting but at that stage there is usually structural problems or rethinking at the very least. If I tried to clean this one up I would kill it. These are the circumstances.

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Paul Dodd "Model From Crime Page H" 2015
Paul Dodd “Model From Crime Page H” 2015

When panting class is in session the whole week revolves around that night. We were there a half hour early for our three hour class and it still flew by. We are already starting another revolution. To be continually challenged, it doesn’t get any better than that.

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The Kids Are Alright

Si'Van artwork at the Creative Workshop in Rochester, New York
Si’Van artwork at the Creative Workshop in Rochester, New York

This will probably be the last week for the show of kids art at the Creative Workshop in the Memorial Art Gallery. The staff has announced an adult student show and they’re accepting entries this week. The upcoming show has a theme, something to do with color and design and Spring, but that’s an art education construct. I submitted a black and tan piece in a rectangular frame.

A couple of people from Fred Lipp’s class had moved across the hall for this season’s figure drawing class. Last night they bravely turned the tables on end so they stood six feet high and then drew full size figures in chalk on the long sheets of brown paper that normally cover the tabletop. No such organized exercises in Fred’s class where people work in any medium on any subject and in any style. I’m working on the figure too but from top down. Last night I learned a lesson in form, how a change in direction of a line or shape indicates a change in form. Most of what he teaches is centered around unlearning what you think you know and then learning to trust your eye.

Maureen, who teaches art to kids, was standing nearby working on her favorite theme, another painting of the a bend in the Genesee river as seen from the flats on the east side. She had scrubbed out some trees and was in the process of putting more trees back in when she said “I wish I could paint like those kids in the show.”

I do too. Just look at the photo above (click for enlargement.

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Smiley Faces

Three CrimeFaces (Rochester mug shots) for Lucy Bryne Show at Creative Workshop in Rochester, NY
Three CrimeFaces (Rochester mug shots) for Lucy Bryne Show at Creative Workshop in Rochester, NY

For the last six months or so I’ve been painting on paper with water color, opaque water color, kid’s tempera paint to be precise. The Creative Workshop passed out a flyer to announcing a portrait show and students were asked to submit up to three works that were properly mounted and ready to hang. I don’t Know if push pins through the corners of works on paper would qualify and I waited ’til the last minute so I chose three small oils from earlier this year. I snapped a photo of them in my driveway before dropping them off. Rachel, the Workshop director told me they would only have room for two which I took to mean two of your “crime faces”. So I let Rachel pick the two she liked and I took the one on the right back home with me. The show is up now and it looks pretty good.

Stop by the Little Theater Cafe tonight for Margaret Explosion. We’ll be there every Wednesday until the new year.

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Artist Statement

We sent our next Margaret Explosion cd off for duplication and I submitted the new tunes to CDDB through iTunes. I had to pick a category for the type of music it is before it would allow me to submit so I chose “Jazz” from the short list. In the iTunes application however you have a much longer list and you can even make up your own categories. I don’t usually think about describing our music until I’m in situations like this. I found a category in there called “Psychedelic Jazz” and pretty much works. I didn’t know there was such a thing.

There is a student show up over at the Creative Workshop and the director asked us to write a short blurb about what it is that inspired us to paint whatever it is we painted. Most art types balk at describing their work because the work is supposed to do the talking. Some people, though, love “Artist’s Statements” and long descriptions or histories of the artists. At many shows these days the placards next to the painting severely detract from the work.

That being said, I did spend some time thinking about why I paint what I do. And I came up with a succinct, two word statement of my inspiration. “Human Nature”. I am interested in exploring why I am drawn to the subject matter of my choice. I am interested in creating a dialog about this subject through the work and then I’m interested in how people around me react to what I put down.

They didn’t use my artist statement and that’s fine.

Here’s Pete LaBonne’s track “Artist Statement” from his Earring Records cd entitled “Glob”.


Stopping The Crimestoppers

Crimestoppers from Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, NY
Crimestoppers from Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, NY

I had my last painting class at the Creative Workshop last night, that is my last until we go around again in the Fall. “Going around” is not really it at though. Fred Lipp conducts a class with no end. Every class, like every painting, is another beginning. I can only hope to not repeat my bad habits and move forward incrementally. No matter how many of his classes I take or how far I come, there is always a new host of problems to contend with. It will always be a daunting challenge and Fred is always there to help. I’m trying to recommend his class to anyone who is serious about improving their work. He is an incredible resource.

I was thinking I might take a break from the crime faces but then in this morning’s paper there is a whole new batch.

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