Stella Adler Studio

INTERVIEWS with ARTISTS

BRIAN COX

NICOLE ANSARI

DAVID SHINER

DAVID GREENSPAN

BILL D'ELIA

FYVUSH FINKEL

LYLE KESSLER

JENNIFER FOUCHÉ

SHELDON EPPS

MYRIAM CYR

JIM SEALES

ROBERT STAFFANSON

IAN FINKEL

WILLIAM S. YELLOWROBE, JR.

EDDIE MARTIN

PETER JENSEN

TIM STEVENSON

Spotlight On

INTERVIEWS with ARTISTS

BRIAN COX

NICOLE ANSARI

DAVID SHINER

DAVID GREENSPAN

BILL D'ELIA

FYVUSH FINKEL

LYLE KESSLER

JENNIFER FOUCHÉ

SHELDON EPPS

MYRIAM CYR

JIM SEALES

ROBERT STAFFANSON

IAN FINKEL

WILLIAM S. YELLOWROBE, JR.

EDDIE MARTIN

PETER JENSEN

TIM STEVENSON

Spotlight On

 

 

 

“Don’t cast away a flower or even a tree leaf without entering into communion with it and penetrating into its mystery. Listen to the twittering of a bird, watch the thoughtfulness of each small fish in an aquarium; gaze as often as you can at the stars – all this will help in your struggle for spiritual concentration.” 
- Richard Bolaslavsky

 

Hirschfeld

 

“In everything, without doubt, truth has the advantage over imitation.”
- Cicero

 

 

 

“The actor must constantly remember that he is on the stage for the sake of the public.”
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

 

 

 

“How do we re-establish a culture of caring?  There are many things that we can and do. The arts can help. Becoming educated – but having a good education doesn’t necessarily mean that a person knows how to be a “caring” person. It’s time to re-define what “being human” means. What is it that makes us different from animals? Mainly, it’s when we accept the discipline of “being human.” When we genuinely care about each other.” 
- Rita Fredricks

 

 

“The meaning of life is to see.”
- Hui Neng

“Deep at the center of my being there is an infinite well of gratitude. I now allow this gratitude to fill my heart, my body, my mind, my consciousness, my very being. This gratitude radiates out from me in all directions, touching everything in my world, and returns to me as more to be grateful for. The more gratitude I feel, the more I am aware that the supply is endless.”
- Louise L. Hay

“Love is stronger than differences. We all live on the same planet. We walk on the same earth. We breathe the same air. No matter where I was born, no matter what color skin I have or what religion I was raised to believe in, everything and everyone is connected to this one life. I no longer choose to prejudge others, to feel either superior or inferior. I choose equality – to have warm, loving, open communication with every member of my Earthly family. I am a member of the earth community.”
- Louise L. Hay

“Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive – that you can touch the miracle of being alive – then that is a kind of enlightenment.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh

“Many people are alive but don't touch the miracle of being alive.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh

“Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh

“Life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh

“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh

“We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh

“A frequent change of role, and of the lighter sort – especially such as one does not like forcing one's self to use the very utmost of his ability in the performance of – is the training requisite for a mastery of the actor’s art.”
- Edwin Booth

“But Nature cast me for the part she found me best fitted for, and I have had to play it, and must play it till the curtain falls.”
- Edwin Booth

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, Rejoice, for your soul is alive.”
- Eleanora Duse

Ronald Rand in Let It Be Art

Martha Carpenter

Considered one of the premier portrait artists of America, Ms. Carpenter has had her paintings exhibited across America, as well as at the Centre International D’Art Contemporain in Paris, France as a participant in a Salon des Nations Exhibition promoting independent American artists. Throughout her career, Ms. Carpenter has had numerous exhibition experiences and publications, which have culminated in a consistent influx of private and corporate portrait commissions. Currently, her work is marketed nationwide through galleries, agencies and private exhibitions. Ms. Carpenter received the Certificate of Recognition as the Winner of Portrait Society of America International Competition in 2001.

How did you develop your style?

I mainly studied John Singer Sargent’s paintings. I also took workshops with Daniel Green and John Sanden but I haven’t attended any particular school to study portrait painting I’ve learned by making paintings.

When I was with Daniel Green, I can remember the place and the model and the palette I was using. I remember him standing next to me looking at my painting. He told me: “Martha, I think the nostril is in the wrong place. Re-examine the nostril.”

He was exactly right. It’s the landmark for the entire face and I was doing a three-quarter view of this girl who was modeling for us; she was an excellent model. The nostril of her nose was a landmark and I adjusted it ever so slightly and then the portrait was perfect. We also painted a male model.

When I went to another workshop at the same studio in upstate New York, the model that day had an ethnic look with great big hair that came out everywhere, very strong powerful features. She had an unusual neckline which jutted out much further than normal. Her stance was off a little as her head sort of came forward from the shoulders; she was a very unusual subject. I really enjoyed painting her. Daniel Green’s wife, Wende Caporale, who is also a wonderful painter came by and looked at my painting and said: “We have a real painter in the room.” I just winked, and thought: “That makes two of us.”

What do you find in John Singer Sargent’s portraits that make such a deep impression on you?

It’s Sargent’s color, his mixture of his colors. One day I was looking at a painting of his of a woman in white. She had on a dress which appeared to be of a satin material. It was gorgeous rendition of this white color in the painting of her garment. Well, I took a white envelope from my purse, and I held it up in front of the white in his painting, but the color in his painting was clearly more like gray. However, when you stepped back, the painting of the dress clearly looked like white.

I knew that that was what I wanted to be able achieve, that kind of an illusion. The color in the painting was definitely not white. It was incredibly beautiful but he has used color intensities and color values to achieve this white color in the painting.

That’s partly what I have been learning by going out outdoors to paint. I’ve been learning color temperatures, and it’s been amazing to study how to apply paint to a painting to achieve different light values, and then apply it to my portrait painting. I never believed in painting outdoors until I actually did it. The artists who do go out and paint told me: “You feel the painting in the air and it helps to paint portraits.”

Sometimes colors will “argue with each other,” which actually will help make the painting vibrate and sizzle. The colors will counter-act and contradict one another achieving a certain distinction with each other.

I also have spent time studying Sargent’s brushwork in his paintings. If you examine the rhythm of his brushwork, it’s like Argentine tango.

In one of his paintings when I looked closely at the subject in the painting, you can see in this woman standing outdoors a fiery brush work, and then in another section of the painting, like her face, it’s done with such total refinement and sensitivity. In one area the brushwork’s very deliberate, but not around the facial area but you can see a difference in his brushwork in the garments and the background imagery. There’s one section where it looks like he must have dropped his brush on the floor and it appears what looks like dirt is embedded in the painting. There’s another place where you can see his paint brush bristles. They must have been coming apart. When that happens to my brushes when I’m painting, I also leave them on the canvas. In his painting, it’s all there – like a time capsule.

Seeing a part of Sargent’s brushes in his painting, that were once on a brush that was in his hand reminds me of when I listened to some scrolls on a player piano. The scrolls had originally been recorded by Franz Liszt and to listen to these scrolls which were actually made when he was playing and to see these holes where they were made as he played made me feel I was in the presence of the ghost of Liszt; It’s how I feel when I get close to a painting by Sargent.

Are there certain artists that have influenced your work?

John Sanden, he’s my biggest hero because I’ve learned a great deal from him. He’s a very generous teacher. He’s not always available but when he does teach I feel connected to what he says.

Studying with Daniel Green was also important; his teaching is very effective. He’s very busy, he’ll make a presentation and then he’s gone.

What kinds of materials do you prefer to paint on and what brushes do you use?

I paint on linen canvas, hardly ever on cotton unless if it’s a demonstration. The cloth of the canvas is either linen or cotton linen. The fibers come from a linen plant which also allows the linen canvas to have a better longevity. The linen comes from the flax plant, and the fibers are longer and it makes more stronger fabric, and it adds to the life of the painting. More than likely paintings by van Gogh and da Vinci and Michelangelo were painted on linen.

In regards to the paintbrushes I use they vary. They usually are made from hog hair; some of them are sable, squirrel tails, horse mane hair. It’s best to use a natural bristle, not a synthetic. I use a filbert brush made out of hog hair from Spain, rounded on the end. I like them a lot. A sable brush is used for refining, and a bristle brush you can grab the paint off your palette and make the brushstroke, and the brush has the power to withstand the impact of the brushstroke. The shape of the brushstroke you’re making is an organic shape that’s why the filbert brush is rounded on the end.  That’s why it works well for portraits because of the way its curved at the end.

To me, John Singer Sargent certainly rests at the top with great American 20th century artists including Andrew Wyeth, Georgia O’Keefe, Edward Hopper, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, Alice Neel, Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollack, John Howard Sanden, Daniel Green, Thomas Eakins, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Mary Cassatt, Frederick Remington, or Winslow Homer, among many others.

I think Sargent hasn’t been given credit for his amazing work. Perhaps it’s because he was a society painter, which he was without a doubt.

John Singer Sargent was always well-dressed even when he worked in his studio. If I’m painting from life I’ll wear something comfortable and casual. I usually wear a painting apron, and mine probably dates back quite a few years.

Do you normally paint your paintings with the person sitting for you?

I mainly paint from photographs. People are not always available and children less available. To paint someone in person you have to spend days with them. I have painted models in person when I do demonstrations. I have painted several paintings from life but they weren’t commissions.

I didn’t own a camera for the first ten years; I did all the portraits from life. At that time I did quick portraits and sketches and I would several in a day. When I changed I learned how to use a camera because of travel.

The photographic reference became a necessary evil, because of people’s lifestyles. The best paintings I’ve done come from painting a model in life. I’ve done some non-commissioned paintings from life over the past couple of years.

I’m getting a posthumous portrait, and there you have to work from a photograph. I have done posthumous portraits of children as well. A portrait seems to have a great deal of meaning. Portrait painting is a consistent art form, a method set aside from other art movements.

I prefer painting from life but I market my work that makes it necessary to paint from photographs I panted from life for a long time but my portraits were done quickly done in a sketchy technique. More involved paintings nationwide I had to learn about photography. But it puts a step between you and the model.

One of the most recent commissioned pieces that I painted in person from life at her home. I worked on preliminary paintings at her home. She was indecisive what she wanted to wear, the props she wanted to be in the painting. She wanted it to be a vintage painting. She came to my studio and posed a few days. I did three live sessions paintings but finally I needed to work alone on the painting, so I photographed her. She loved the painting. I made her a little taller. It’s about the same dimensions of one of the largest paintings by Robert Henri: 77 inches tall by 33 inches wide. We framed it beautifully and it has a nice home.

A mother who had commissioned me to paint her daughters had traveled to Chicago to a doll show by train. Terribly, tragically there was a crash, and the mother lost two of her daughters on the train. It was terrible.

I was told they had done an interview, and when I watched it on television, the father and mother talked about what helped them get through. The daughters were so beautiful. And as the mother was interviewed, and she spoke about her faith in getting through this terrible tragedy, they showed the portrait painting I had done of the two daughters, and she talked about how much it meant to her to have the painting. Hearing that made me feel very worthwhile and gave a whole new meaning to me of what my work can means for others.

I had also done the portraits of a family that had had gone on safari in Africa. They had gone up in a plane to sight-see, the whole family, mother, father, grandparents and two or three daughters and it ran into a cliff, and they were all gone. I think there was one daughter left out of this family. She was too young to go up in the plane and she was the sole survivor. I was commissioned to do paint full-size portraits of the entire family, and it meant a great deal to the young girl. I feel portrait paintings are a very effective way to document a life. It’s a very humanistic art form.

What does it take to be a painter of portraits?

You do have to decide in the beginning whether you’re willing to make certain sacrifices. You know you have to come into your studio every day to paint a painting when you’ve been commissioned to paint; you’re providing a service. You’re not always painting with inspiration. You have to have an understanding with yourself and learn how to make artistic sacrifices. You’re painting a document of an individual, whether it’s a child or the President of the United States. It has to cater to a client. So that’s the initial issue at hand.

After that, the fact is that as a portrait artist you have become proficient at the art form; you have to have a passion for the art form. That is the inspiration. Throughout time you may have to paint subjects you may not want to really paint, but it’s your livelihood, your income, but the love of the art form is there.

Along the way you made the decision: “I’m a portrait artist.” I won’t be at the helm of the artistic decisions of the painting. Some people you paint have their ideas of what they want to see themselves as in the painting set in stone. You have to accept that fact.

So it requires patience. Sometimes you have to dig into your soul because it’s always the end result that matters. You have to have an accurate portrayal of the subject, and require more patience that you think you have. The art form is quite a bit challenging but rewarding in terms of excellence. It requires a lot of practice. Some artists feel strongly they have to put their reactions to society into their work.

Painting is an art form done by a human hand. If that human hand is attached to a person upset or feeling great with the world or themselves, it will always find its way into the brushwork. My brushwork will be different from one day to the next.

What gives you your greatest joy in painting?

The fact that it’s all I am. It makes me feel grateful, blessed. I was given this chance to paint and it’s been there as my companion, my livelihood. It’s always been there for me.

When I go outside to paint with a group its refreshing after spending forty years alone in a studio painting portraits. It’s fun and more like a challenge to try and do the best painting I can do. Painting a plain air painting in my experience is like going fishing being outdoors and being with people who share a common interest. Doing a recent painting, “The Luthier” was refreshing .It’s the title used to describe the craft that the man in performing in the painting. He makes a guitar.  

I thought it would be interesting to show a crafts person in their craft. It wasn’t commissioned, my brushwork was more deliberate had more freedom, a little stressful at times because I knew I was playing hooky.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some may see it in a Rothko or a Picasso which are entirely different from a Botticelli or a Michelangelo due to style, color and tone and content. Is there a way to develop one’s appreciation or taste for art?

I think Harold Clurman had it in a nutshell when he wrote in a commentary about the theater: If it was a good play, it touched people; it’s in the eye of the beholder. It’s very relative, isn’t it? If it touches the person inside, the aesthetic quality of the work itself, and the skill level, there can be an emotive content and some people may see it that way. Some paintings have an emotional impact and some don’t. A person can be affected by the skill level or the emotion it conjures up. It can be a work of art or a piece of music or a play which can give tremendous meaning, however another person may not react in a positive or in a negative way and not be affected one way or another.

A most powerful painting might be an exception. I can think of brushstrokes of areas in paintings that I have viewed. It happened to me when I saw a John Howard Sanden painting, in just within a few minutes of viewing the brushstrokes it affected me for the rest of my life.

When I see a John Singer Sargent painting, if it’s a strong painting, I react in a great way to the various colors, the values, and the color temperature in the painting, how he achieved what he did. That’s where I get the power from a painting.

In terms of a particular painting of mine: there was a painting I was commissioned to do. Although it never got any recognition, and it’s just a young girl about twenty years of age with long blonde hair. She didn’t really get dressed up. But in my mind it’s one of the best paintings I ever did. No one would know that. It’s because it just flowed, every brushstroke was purposeful and the paint went on the way I intended, and the end result was a real fresh final affect; it was all very direct brushstrokes.

This is the way I had painted – alla prima – “all at once” – it wasn’t done in layers. When its natural all the work takes place on the palette and when you make the brushstrokes, it’s the final element of the process. You make the brushstroke and leave it there and know why it’s there and you know when you made it, the reason you’re’ making it. Once it’s there, it stays there, it doesn’t have to be modified.

That’s my objective: to do a painting and your mind is there with the palette. It’s all about the paint, the consistency, the color temperature, the paint and the brushes you use. You know where the brushstroke will land and that has been achieved; it’s a more powerful painting.

I can think of paintings with tremendous brush work: works by Goya, Velázquez, John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase. I’m amazed by all of these artists who invested a lifetime in their art form. If anyone is able to invest a lifetime of pursuing an art form in a serious nature, not just for fame, and can create something great, whether its a dance or a piece of music or a piece of art or a performance or a play for the theater – it’s about the process – that’s what makes it great.

I know it’s not easy. It’s typically physically demanding. Creation takes a lot of willpower and can drive you crazy. You can get knocked down time and time again so it requires a great deal of stamina. It can be even more challenging when your spirit isn’t soaring all the time. I suppose that’s a good thing or you wouldn’t see the full depth. I just know it’s hard, it’s not easy to build a career. You have to think about it with every breath you take, laying the groundwork, still acquiring skill day after day. It’s a mad race to gather as much insight from the artists you come in contact with.

In the earlier stages, for example, in acting you’re constantly seeking other masters who have mastered the art form; they have so much to give you through teaching. I think that’s a test of how determined a person is. You have to be willing to really work hard, to build a foundation or a career, and then when you do have a career, what it takes to keep it going.

It can also be hard on an artist if they decide to teach when someone who decides all of a sudden, they want to do it too, so you teach a class, but you can see they can get extremely discouraged because they can’t paint the way you do, and this is after taking only one workshop. They don’t have a clue of how much there is to it, Yet, the more you do it, the more the chance you have of doing it, and doing it well.•


 


The Soul of the American Actor Newspaper