Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My Mentors...Kelly Fearing and Gibbs Milliken

Did you ever feel like a square peg in a round hole? Most artists do growing up.

Attending college at the University of Texas was an eye opener for me! There, I found my niche.

Austin, Texas 1976....Eeyore's Birthday Party, Zilker Park and a diverse art department...what more could anyone want?

I was introduced to graphite powder, texture boards, gouache, silverpoint and so much more. I made collages from textures of wood, woven bamboo, even my artist smock was morphed into rock-like formations.

Kelly Fearing showed me a world of alien landscapes made of layers of texture. He had me create countless texture boards from onion bags, screen netting, the end of bamboo paintbrush and other items pressed into texture medium.

I learned old school....no cell phone, computer, pinterest or facebook for inspiration.  Paper was placed over the texture boards and rubbed with Pentel "japanese crayons" and graphite sticks.

Gibbs Milliken was my life drawing professor for two years. He influenced me with his simple paintings of weeds growing in cracks in the sidewalk and feathers hanging from a string.

This is acrylic and gold leaf on linen done by Kelly Fearing in 1968.  It is as relevant today as it was in 1968 because he understood the medium and how to manipulate it. I was educated to explore mediums and understand their properties, not to use a "kit"approach and then be frustrated when something goes wrong.

Gibbs Milliken carved an ink quill for me from a yucca plant, he had learned the technique from native americans and how the yucca stem is absorbent. I still have it and treasure it. He taught me to loosen up with my drawing and to never let a project become "work".

Kelly Fearing showed me there is art in everything and gave me his passion for color.
 Without these two men, I would not be who I am today. Who's mentoring you?


MyFavoriteFrenchAntiques said...

Theresa, I can see your heart and your talent attracted such talented mentors, Carving a quill ink pen for you...truly special !
We see the same delightful person in your blogging!

home before dark said...

What a lovely and loving way to "connect the dots" to the artist you have become. It's been written that every poem is written on the back of another poem. I think all art is that way.

As for my mentors, I think fondly of my high school speech teacher Kenneth Sharp who had a passion for eradicating git, jest, thang, wut and wad'r from our vocabularies. If you heard me speak, there is not a trace of my southern Oklahoma twang. Thaaaanks (two syllables, of course), Kenneth!

Mark D. Ruffner said...

Hi, Theresa,

I went to college to get a degree in painting, but I saw in my freshman year that the seniors were ending up as lesser imitations of their professors. And with that observation, I transferred to Graphic Design, which I loved and which gave me a very solid foundation in all aspects of design.

So I would say about really good mentors — which you obviously had — that they recognize their students' individual talents and bring them forth.

Gina said...

Dear Theresa, It is obvious that you have always been a student who has excelled in everything you set your mind to do and to learn. Your mentors recognized that in you. I have noticed that you continue to learn, and only the more difficult disciplines which set you apart from the main.

Unknown said...

Kelly Fearing made a big impact on my art as well at UT (1968-74). I recognize now what an incredible education we received. He was such a generous and truly kind human being.

louielouie said...

For some reason, I thought of Gibbs today. Probably because I was writing about hiking gear. I tried his name in the FB search bar and up popped your tribute. Beautiful. Love the part about him making you an ink quill from a yucca plant. I loved his visits to the magazine (he was a contributor). He knew my desk was a welcome spot to hang his boot heels and regale me with colorful stories of his adventures. xo

Anonymous said...

I had classes with Gibbs Miliken in 1987. He invited me to go to Venezuela to photograph primitive indian tribes in January 1988. We were there 2 weeks. We photographed the Piaroa, Wahibo and Makititare tribes. Very interesting. We also went to a cave where Indians buried their dead. We had a great time with all the adventures. Traveling down small rivers in a hollowed out tree with an outboard motor attached. I still have the 400 or so kodachrome slides that I shot back then. It is now 2024 a d I live in Costa Rica. tomcartago@yahoo.com

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