For an early anniversary, Jim gave me a set of 144 Rembrandt soft pastels.
I cried and cried.
I'd spent years painting with my high school set of student grade pastel sticks.
It contained 12 colors.
Supplies do not make an artist.
Supplies DO make an artist happy!
They say that when the student is ready, the instructor will appear.
I consider each teacher a priceless gift, a gift magically bestowed upon me at precisely the right time in my creative life.
Each teacher taught me "to fish", to train myself, to boldly chose my own route as an artist.
Each taught me to believe in myself, to follow my heart and be true.
~ Lindy Cook Severns
MY CREATIVE PEER
Kelly shares my love of nature and my fascination with technology. We both create. It's easy to bounce ideas back and forth since we speak a common creative language.
Besides offering artful business advice, Kelly is also generous with his back slaps. Plus, he reminds me to pour single malt to celebrate finishing a painting.
FIRST CAME MOM and CRAYONS
I was the firstborn, and my parents read to me from Day One. As I was cutting baby teeth, my artistic mother handed me a red crayon and commenced teaching me to draw. Draw, I did, as effortlessly as I read. I drew on walls. I colored their new mattress (I love a large canvas). I drew on sidewalks (but never books!).
I entered first grade already reading and stunned to discover that the other kids in my class didn't draw. That's when I realized I had a gift, one that was being strongly reinforced.
Every morning, Mom took the time to draw a cartoon on my lunch bag. (In junior high, I found this lunch bag art slightly embarrassing. Now, I wish I'd kept one of those brown bags with Mom's daily cartoon on it.)
GATHERING THE WIND
12" x 24" oil by Lindy Cook Severns Davis Mountains, Texas
Watercolor by Bettye Cook
Cook Sisters Lindy and Kathy at Alpine, Texas for Artwalk 2007. (I'm the short one) Note our totally unintentionally color-coordinated outfits!
PASTEL PAINTING, MY PASSPORT TO A NEW WORLD
In the early eighties, I took a week-long pastel painting workshop with Art Students' League instructor Albert Handell. Albert left New York City for Santa Fe shortly thereafter.
Albert is now known as a Master Pastelist, but back then, neither of us had gray in our hair. As I watched the passionate young artist do serious, multi-layered paintings in soft pastels, I felt I'd entered a room filled with loving family members previously unknown to me. Who would've thought sticks of color could do so much?
That was the first of many week-long classes in oils and in pastels. Over that decade, Albert shared his bold command of value, mass and dynamic tension. I learned the difference in great as opposed to good composition. I was privileged to learn under a master.
I spent the next couple of decades painting professionally, wandering the wilderness and ultimately, finding my own path in fine art.
After receiving no instruction for the next twenty years, I took a 2007 mentoring workshop from Albert. It was intensive, plein air painting in Northeastern New Mexico. That week knocked me to my knees. Producing two paintings daily in ravaging winds, record heat, lightning, hail and a forest fire taught me to get the essence of my painting down quickly, whether on location and in the studio. This is more about thinking than painting: discern what you want to say, and say it. Tell your colorful story succinctly.
I wasn't painting like Albert Handell, though: I was painting like Lindy Severns. I'd taken the tools he had, so long ago, given me and over time, I'd developed my own strong style and method. My mentor hadn't fed me-- he'd taught me to fish!
Three years later, an invitational exhibit hung a Lindy Cook Severns pastel landscape at Ventana Fine Art on Canyon Road in Santa Fe: Albert Handell's home gallery for over twenty years. Showing my own art where my mentor exhibited gave me goosebumps. To my delight, Albert attended the opening reception. That's what good teachers do.
Pastels chose me. I love oil painting, but if I had to chose one painting medium, I'd choose soft pastels. I define myself as a pastelist, one who sculpts magic using crumbling sticks of pure pigment. Thanks, Albert, for introducing us.
MY FIRST ART COLLECTOR
Baby sis Kathy insisted she liked my colored pencil cutouts better than store-bought ones, so I developed a whole family of paper dolls for us, real paper people with backstories and paper pets and every-changing paper wardrobes. Imaginative years. Good ones.
After I outgrew playing paper dolls, Kathy and her neighborhood pals submitted orders for new ones. We need a tall, black-haired man and a blue-eyed grandmother and a brides' dress. And a flying dog...
My sister is still always there with encouragement and appreciation. Affirmation blended with love helped make me artist.
2016 premier of the
PBS documentary of WESTERN PERSPECTIVE, epsiode 5 featuring Fort Davis Texas painter Lindy Severns
Thank You, Everyone!
5" x 7" watercolor sketch
Lindy Cook 1970
Soft Pastels in Lindy's Studio
JAVELINA NEIGHBOR 11"x 14" graphite Lindy Cook Severns
LIFE INTO DRAWINGS
Ted Seth Jacobs, an instructor at the Art Students' League in New York taught a week-long 1980's Lubbock, Texas workshop on life drawing. His class is my only workshop experience other than Albert Handell classes.
Jacobs, a black belt in aikido, stressed how essential it is to weave chi, the "life force" into drawings. Being a martial artist myself, I understood the value of harnessing chi, but incorporating it into my drawings was a new concept.
I recommend his book, DRAWING FROM THE LIGHT WITHIN as the best book on drawing I've read. (It's esoteric rather than being a how-to book.)
I didn't keep up with this artist, but I value his teachings.
OIL PAINTING LESSONS
Lubbock artist Peggy Benton Young once taught a weekly oil painting class targeted at mature, hobby level housewives. She entered my life in my late twenties. I was a housewife, if not mature, a college art program failure with a degree in English and Biology, a pilot recovering from a crash. I was a young woman going berserk from two long years of enforced inactivity while my broken back healed.
Peggy Benton Young taught specifics. Under this kind and patient woman, I gained a basic knowledge of oil painting techniques and a profound understanding of color. During each morning-long session, she gave each student her sincere personal attention. She gave the least talented artist in the class the same amount of attention she gave me.
From those classes, I learned that the act of creating counts for more than the creation. Peggy Benton Young gave me knowledge I constantly use, knowledge I share with my own students, whatever their abilities.
Lindy Cook Severns
Old Spanish Trail Studio 2012
Big Bend Artist Lindy Cook Severns paints the Chihuahuan Desert en plein air 2008
Albert Handell paints on location in Taos, NM 2007
Landscape Architect Kelly Cook points out a nest along the boardwalk of his Jenna Welch Wildlife Preserve and Wetlands project in Midland, TX.
MY HIGH SCHOOL ART TEACHER
I seriously considered studying to become a surgeon.
My Midland Lee High School art teacher, Inez Parker suggested I was good enough to pursue a career in fine art.
Sometimes, you need someone to tell you you're good enough.
Thanks, Miss Parker.