Rollie Ivers, 1919-2010

Rollie Ivers, my high school art teacher, passed on this week. I haven’t seen him for many years, but we exchanged news at Christmastime somewhat regularly.

Mr Ivers taught me to consider a painting as a design.  He always had us students draw at least 10 thumbnail sketches for every project—of course we hated doing them.  When I got to art school, though, I found that thumbnail sketches were part of every instructor’s requirements and I was already an old pro at generating them.  I was ahead of the game.  Thanks, Mr Ivers.

Mr Ivers did an art history segment once a week, which focused on ecclesiastical architecture, as I remember it.  We got a lot of mimeographed floor plans of churches which were three-hole punched and inserted into our bulging art history binders.  I’m sure there must have been more to Mr Ivers’ art history lectures than church architecture, but that’s what I remember.  It must have been a passion with him.  I have a fondness for Gothic architecture, architecture generally and art history that he must have instilled in me.

Mr Ivers’ greatest talent was his skill as a watercolorist.  He painted en plein air landscapes around Syracuse and Watertown.  These were big, bold compositions masterfully carried off with dash and brio.  His rigorously designed paintings looked like he knocked them out with hardly a care.  That’s no easy stunt.

A month or so ago I sent Rollie one of my books to show him how I was coming along, and he sent me a note in return.  That was our last correspondence.  How our teachers influence us, shape our lives!  I’ll bet that every time I sit down to draw thumbnail sketches, I think of Rollie, if only for a moment.  I’ll continue to do that til the day I finally lay down my own pencil.

Thank you, thank you, Mr Ivers.

0 replies
  1. Jan Lewinski
    Jan Lewinski says:

    John, thanks for your thoughts and for sharing the news. I also corresponded with Mr. Ivers each Xmas. He used to love to travel and based his trips around the art he would experience. Like yourself, I felt I had a leg up when I got to college and had already been exposed to every type of media and process. I will also remember Rolly for his love of cross country running.
    Please let me know the address for his kids so I can send condolences.

  2. Mark Tanski
    Mark Tanski says:

    I to was blessed to know Rolly, He was my high school Art teacher; Art history was his passion (I still have my mimeograph copies). I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but everything he showed us, told us, had us experience was for a reason. Somehow somewhere in our lives his lessons and thoughts came to make sense. I recall coming home one evening, newly married to see Mr., Avers sitting on my sofa talking with my wife about how I was doing and whether or not I was available to go golfing with him. That’s what I liked about him, spontaneity, and sincerity. He was unappreciated by many in high school even many of the staff and fellow co-workers thinking him to strict, I don’t feel as though he was to strict, more so that he had expectations and challenged you to rise to them, if you are one of those who are reading this you will understand. I think of him often and fondly, and am proud to have known him.


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