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.