Janet Loper told me Ed had died.
Last night I heard Herbie Hancock play acoustic and electronic jazz at the Kimmel Center.
In my head, despite the fact I have not studied with Ed for more than 25 years, I still hear him hollering: “how light is that?” “put color next to color; you’re skipping”; “you’re not seeing color; you’re making mud.” His words continue to challenge me to see more, not so I paint pictures that are like his, because they are not, but to paint pictures that, as he has said, “may be rotten, but not ordinary.”
When I study his pictures, I understand his achievement: his adaptation of Venetian luminosity with Cézanne’s power and, in his late work, with Renoir’s warmth. He talks to me through his work.
Here’s the summary: (1) An accident: I enrolled in the one class at the Delaware Art Museum that had a space left; (2) I survived a torturous apprenticeship; (3) I received a gift: a vision that intrigued me and I wanted, and needed, to pursue; (4) My teacher demonstrated through his own struggle that ordinary people could live an extraordinary life by making art.
At the end of The Velveteen Rabbit, the Skin Horse tells the Rabbit, "The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
Ed Loper made me Real. He created an extended family of Real. We, as the Dan Fogelberg song “Leader of the Band” goes, have his blood running through our instruments and his song in our soul.
Some of us continue to teach others, to pass on what Ed taught us. Others do it through their paintings.
My 12-year-old grandson Josh just completed a pastel of a stuffed animal, a sloth, he purchased from the gift shop at the zoo. Ed would have given him hell for not “seeing” more color, but Josh, intrigued by the process, happily joins me each week to make pictures. And I don’t give him hell for anything.
|Josh and Ed a Few Months Ago|