Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Memories of Ann Templeton

Ann Templeton (1936-2011)

Over time, I'm sure more artists and students of painting will offer their own memories of Ann Templeton.  I thought I'd take a few moments to share my own.  Ann was a dear friend and my mentor for many years.  I'll never forget working on her first book, Ann Templeton: A Step Beyond, her 30-year retrospective.  I stayed in her guest house - what she called her "apple house" - so we could work 24/7.  Ann was a night owl and would stay up until the wee hours pulling 35mm slides; I'd get up before dawn and start inventorying them.  In the times when we overlapped, I interviewed her and took many, many notes.

She had a great deal of advice to offer me, most of which I took, and some of which I wish I had.  You can find a lot of it in my book with her and also her second one, Color: A Step Beyond.  Here are a few words of wisdom from her:

  • You can't paint rich unless you start rich.  It's very difficult to make dull color rich.  (Ann loved color, and often started off with the most jarring oranges, yellows and reds you can imagine.  But, they were the foundation for many beautiful paintings.  Transparent Orange and Manganese Blue were two of her favorite paints.)
  • When you first start painting, you get better fast.  But then you level off, and progress is very slow.  (Ann had a full career as a housewife, raised a family, and only then turned to painting.  She studied under Sergei Bongart, Wolf Kahn and William F. Reese.  Bill was a particularly good friend of hers.)
  • Be careful of what galleries you choose.  Once you're in, it's hard to leave.  (Ann had galleries coast-to-coast.  She used to say that a working artist needed at least seven.  Many of her painting friends attended her opening receptions.  I remember that Walt Gonske came down one night from Taos to an opening in Ruidoso, New Mexico.  That was a big deal for her.)

Ann taught many workshops each year.  Two were her favorites.  One was an annual workshop she taught out of her studio in Ruidoso.  This workshop was more like a bunch of painting buddies hanging out together.  I attended one of these sessions, and it was such a positive, energizing week.  I remember painting with Don Getz, Ken Hosmer, Dee Wescott and many others.

But probably her most favorite was her annual workshop at Ghost Ranch, in Abiquiu, New Mexico.   This was always in October, when the cottonwoods turn a beautiful yellow along the banks of the Rio Chama.   She and Bob Rohm, another good friend of ours, taught parallel workshops during the week.  One year, when I was a student of  Bob's, it seemed like Ann got to all the good painting spots first!

It makes me sad to say that it has been two years since I last saw her.  Schedules kept us apart, but phone and e-mail kept us together.  The last time, she had just built a brand-new studio at her new home in the Hill Country of Texas.  I was putting together a magazine article on studios, and since I was passing through on my way west, I decided to interview her for it.  She really beamed proudly as she gave me a tour.

Goodbye for now, Ann, but your paintings and spirit will be forever with us.

Ann's First Book:  Ann Templeton: A Step Beyond

Ann's Pastel Studio Setup

Ann's Oil Studio Setup

Ann's Oil Palette

Ann's Oil Palette, After Painting


billspaintingmn said...

"You can't paint rich unless you start rich"
I like that! I will remember that.

Tina Bohlman said...

A beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing with us.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear the sad news. I was hoping to take her workshop in Cloudcroft. I have several of her videos and have watched them multiple times. Bob Zeissel Las Cruces, Nm

Sharlette White said...

Ah Radiant Violet! She introduced those Gamblin radiant colors to us at her workshop in McAlester! I now have them all as well as Transparent Orange love using it with reds!

What a radiant person she was!

Ida M. Glazier said...

A wonderful, well-written memorial blog about a very wonderful artist. You are very sensitive, and this was an interesting thing to read. thanks.

Cindy Michaud said...

I was "validated" in a week with her...became unashamed of my love for color and intrigued that it could work without all the grays everyone else insisted on using. thanks for this lovely rememberance of a great lady who pulled no punches.

Martha Allan said...

Thanks so much for the lovely tributes to Ann Templeton. I loved the only workshop I got to take with her. Painting in workshops with you and with Ann, I could relax about my desire to use colors. Thanks also for giving us a chance to talk about Ann. She was unique in a wonderful way. Martha Allan

Ramah Bosecker said...

Just finding out about the passing of Ann I had to add my love and respect for her. I was so fortunate to have studied with her for many years. She was indeed a good friend and teacher.I am fortunate to have four of her paintings. They are treasures.

Cecishapland said...

I discovered Ann on the Internet wPhen I googled abstract landscape one day several years ago. I thought I was the Luckiest person in the world. I found someone who loved color like I did. I was a very new artist at the time. Since then, I have bought both Ann's books and I think I have all her videos. Have read her books many times. Thanks, Ann for sharing all your wonderful knowledge.

I had planned to give myself a special gift and go to her workshop at Ghost Ranch this year. I waited too long. I cannot believe she is gone, such a loss. But I am glad we had her for awhile. Sincere sympathy to you and her family. What an incredible woman and artist.