Sunday, April 15, 2012

Painting Lessons

by Robert Boyd


I went over to check out the Asia Society (big mistake--it was too crowded on opening day. I'll go back and look at it another time) on Southmore, and I decided to take a picture of this building which is about a block to the west of the Asia Society's new building. It used to be a house, but it has apparently been converted into a bar that rents itself out for events. I'm very familiar with this house. For two years, my friend John Richardson and I drove out here every week for painting lessons from Stella Sullivan. This would have been roughly 1979 to 1981. Stella Sullivan was born in 1924, studied at Cranbrook, and was a pioneering modernist painter in Houston. And Stella's still around--slowed down a lot, but she often makes it over to William Reaves Fine Art for events.

As for our painting lessons--she taught us in the garage (on the right in the picture above). She always played classical music. We would start by drawing each other. Then we pulled out our paints. She had what I now realize was a variation of Joseph Albers color theory. She was keen for us to know what happened when we mixed her limited palette of 10 paints with each other, and what these mixtures looked like next to one another. (We didn't use, for example, black paint. If we wanted black, we had to mix ultramarine blue and burnt umber. And the value of doing this was that we could create blacks that were subtly warm or cool by varying the proportions of the two paints.)

I wish this was still a painter's house. But I'm very glad it hasn't been torn down like so many other older structures in Houston.


1 comment:

  1. Stella has a studio in Art Supply studios om Main St
    She works every day.