Michael Newberry

Self-Portrait 1977

  • oil pastel and ink
  • 16 x 10 in
  • $3,000.00
  • Michael Newberry

In 1977, at 20 years old, with certainty, I began my art career. I had already been making art daily since I was 11 years old. That year I quit playing tennis for USC's NCAA Championship team, and paradoxically I would be playing pro tennis in Holland, a year's income in 2 months of competing. In The Hague, I started at the Royal Academy of Art and continued at the Free Academy Psychopolis with 9 hours a day life drawing.
This drawing was done in my first residence living alone, a rented room in Holland. I had no previous connections to Holland, just it was the land of Rembrandt, an opportunity for money, and good art schools. The drawing looks simple enough, but it is actually very sophisticated as the tones are carefully observed and how the edges work with the white space to create spatial depth. If you squint (a great tool and imperative device to check a French Impressionist's painting) the figure looks real with light and shade, the weight sitting on the chair and a slight shift in the body.
Art education is really tricky, as a student, if you have too much freedom you don't learn anything, and have no tools to develop your talent. If you are trained classically, it can smother your inner artist, and give your work a classical stamp of style that some artists never shake. I was lucky to have prioritized direct observation from life. Drawing from a real foot instead of from a plaster cast, or using imagination with zero visual understanding. Very wise from the start and now very thankful I started perfectly.

  • Subject Matter: Figurative
  • Created: c. 1977
  • Collections: Pastels
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