June 2, 2011
1976 Sketchbook, no cover,
8 ½" x 11 -- Athens, GA.
In January of 1976, I
continued my graduate studies in art history at
the University of Georgia at Athens. Also,
I continued my studio work with Mr. Dodd who
asked me to take the water color course he was
teaching that semester. When I told him I
could not afford the supplies required for the
course (very expensive brushes, paints, and
paper), he opened up an account at a local art
supply store in my name. That gives an
idea as to his generosity, especially to a
student that wanted to study.
Mr. Dodd was eighty.
However, he had yet to officially retire.
He maintained an office on the campus, adjacent
to the art department. I had been
fortunate to enter UGA in 1976. Mr. Dodd
retired, officially, soon after the course he
taught in watercolor. I had been one of
his last students.
Lamar Dodd, too had wanted
me to be his student assistant. That was
the means of my meager income -- enough to pay
the rent and eat.
My abode was a lowly one,
shared with six + other students - a large old
house on Child Street. Most of the other
students were grad students, like me, in art or
art history. My downfall lay in one of
these occupants who happened to be a doctoral
candidate in art history with Renaissance/Roman
concentration. This sketchbook then, will
be the beginning of the Tom Era (1976-1978), or,
it should be more correctly written as the Tom
"error." However, that is neither here nor
there. Suffice it to say that I was
submerged in the study of art and art history.
Most of my time was taken with reading art
history, watercolor study, and, of course,
drawing in my sketchbook.
Of all the occupants in
the house on One Child Street, three of them had
been on the University of Georgia Studies Abroad
Program the previous summer. Each of these
were very enthused about their experience; they
each were very enthused about their experience;
they each were determined to return for the
summer of 1976. They also managed to talk
me into joining them.
Thus my first summer
abroad, my first trip to Europe, my first
encounter with some of the great masterpieces of
art in the form of painting, sculpture, crafts,
architecture are part of this sketchbook's
entries. It is not the only journal I took
with me; there are a few more.
Drawings of note:
Page 1: Tom was a
doctoral candidate in art history. He was
employed by the university to teach some of the
introductory courses to the first and second
year students. We were "house mates" at
One Child Street in Athens and it was he who was
primarily responsible for convincing me to
borrow money from my parents for the trip to
Italy in the summer of 1976. Tom was often
busy reading, or typing, or relaxing in the nude
in his room while catching up on his Art History
lectures. He was thus a perfect model and
didn't mind me hanging around doing sketches.
After all, how often does and artist get a
"free" nude model. Mine and Mr. Tom's
relationship was what one would call "free;"
however, in the long run, I think I paid quite a
lot. Aside from that, I like this little
drawing. Tom had red hair and a beard.
He was not particularly handsome, rather thin
and scrawny. But his position as a
university professor put him in the sights of
many a young artist coed, especially if they
wanted a good grade for the course. He was
more than willing to oblige.
Page 11: Spring in
Athens, Georgia is a magical; it arrives earlier
than that to which I had been accustomed having
lived my life in the mountains of WNC.
With the Athens's Spring came numerous species
of flowers and the air was perfumed with
wisteria, honeysuckle, roses, clover, and the
magnificent flower of the magnolia tree. I
had now taken it upon myself to draw everything,
regardless of its complexity. Daily
bouquets were gathered and I would take time to
do a small study. Mr. Dodd was pleased
with these exercises and with my sketchbooks,
overall; he encouraged me to keep up the
exercises and experimentation with line and
Pages 13, 23, 24, 25, 27,
28: The giant magnolia blossoms were new
to me. I had seen them at a distance by
the quad at UGA is covered with these gigantic
trees that, in Spring, bear huge flowers of
heavy, almost musk, scent. The forms of
these flowers were so pure to me in every way -
each petal had a voluminous shape, not quite
pure white but more like a linen white. I
wanted to be able to capture the forms of these
beautiful shapes in the most simple and direct
means as possible: pure line.
Page 20: This is a
tonal portrait of Tom; always the good model in
that he spent a great deal of his time reading
while laying down and was thus quite still;
usually in the nude.
Page 31: "Tangent"
study of begonia. With Mr. Dodd's
encouragement and my own enthusiasm, I tried
breaking away from the forms that were presented
to me in the form of a plant, for instance, as
here and to be experimental toward abstraction
Page 32: There was a
middle-aged sales man of "boiled peanuts"
stationed at the entry steps to the university
quad every day beginning in mid-April. A
great subject for a sketch, he remained in one
spot, chanting "peanuts, peanuts" for which he
received a quarter for each small bag.
Always in a hurry, I didn't take the time to
fill in his beautiful dark color nor did I take
the pains to show the perspiration that
glistened off his head and down the side of his
face. He wore a kacky colored shirt, wet
with the perspiration from the day's heat, and
worn, soft blue overalls.
Page 35: I mad a
trip to Salisbury, NC, where my parents then
lived. Both my brothers were visiting at
the time. I took the opportunity to draw
them. This is Ed, my younger brother
(younger by five years). It's obvious he
actually sat for the drawing and was
Page 36 and 37: My
other brother, Grover, younger than I by three
years, could not be bothered. I could only
catch him napping.
Page 41: This is a
friend and housemate, Tony, who was also from
Asheville and who was in graduate school at UGA
in printmaking. He had been on the
previous summer's trip to Cortona and returned
with me in 1976.
Page 42: Study of a
tree - by going from general to specific forms,
from overall shading to darker areas the
"plastic" aspect of the tree is better realized.
Page 43: Quick
sketch of feet - to be able to work quickly can
often mean correctly. I like the
simplicity of this small sketch.
Page 44: This is a
quick sketch of a doll that had been made for me
by my mother. I carried it with me for
Page 46: We departed
for Paris from JFK International on June 11,
1976. One of my first drawings in the
sketchbook is of a drunken man seated at a
sidewalk cafe. Profound. Not even a
very good drawing. But this was my first
experience of jet lag, as well.
Page 48: As soon as
I could, I hit the main streets of Paris and
began drawing. I became very frustrated at
being with a large group of students and a
handful of faculty that seemed to be bungling
around while trying to check into the student
hostel on Rue de Faucenione. I stored my
bags, grabbed my sketchbook and pencils and went
out walking. I was exhausted and
exhilarated. Even though dragging badly
from jet lag, I made it to Notre Dame du Paris
for a breif walk through the cathedral.
Page 50: Cortona, at
last. The monumental Santa Maria del
Calcinaio by Fransesco di Giorgio, begun in
1485, stands in great majesty as the gate to the
city on the hill.
Page 55: We moved
our things into the monastery (hostel) in
Cortona and within a couple of days were headed
south. In Paestum we stayed in a lovely
hotel overlooking the ocean. After
visiting the ruins there we were given some free
time at the beach. This is a Cezannesque
entry of the Paestum seaside.
Page 56: This is
just a mere notation of a memorable day-trip to
the isle of Capri.
Page 62-71: After
returning to Cortona a week or so later, I made
a few entries of our first "market day" in the
small town. The town truly came alive on
market day, which was every Saturday morning.
The people of the area would take this time to
shop for fresh food, for household goods, and to
visit with each other.