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Monday, September 25, 2017

Brad Marshall--Watercolors at Sea

Speeding Bullet. Brad Marshall is a freelance artist, illustrator, and instructor working out of New York City (when he's not traveling).
Yesterday morning my wife and I disembarked from Cunard's regal Queen Mary 2 in Brooklyn, New York. Except for the last two days when we were skirting Tropical Storm Jose in the North Atlantic, it was a thoroughly delightful seagoing experience. The Cunard flagship is now some fourteen years old. She is aging quite pleasantly, though due to the fact that cruising and cruise ships have changed a lot in the past fourteen years she exhibits some slightly dated design elements--things you wouldn't find on newer ships and lacking some features which have become standard in today's cruise industry. But that's a matter for another time. One standard practice Cunard has embraced is the inclusion of art classes on board. I first encountered this on the Celebrity Silhouette (a class in acrylic painting) and was excited to find Cunard was offering watercolor classes taught by a highly experienced New York artist/illustrator named Bradley Marshall (aided by his wife).
Brad uses his own, specially prepared images as content for
his beginning students.
Even though I had taught watercolor to kids in the public schools for twenty-six years, I decided to take the class. It was the first time I'd done any concentrated study in that temperamental medium since college some forty-five years ago. The first two days I followed along with the other (mostly beginning) students in painting the QM-2 and the White Cliffs of Dover. Then I struck out on my own with a watercolor based loosely on a Hawaiian photo from one of Cunard's travel publications. Like riding a bicycle, I'd not lost my touch. Brad offered praise, advice, an occasional opinion, and most of all congenial friendship, one artist to another. I've since learned that several other cruise line offer similar classes in watercolor for the benefit of their more creative guests.

Brad's temporary art class room is on the upper level of
the Queen Mary 2 Britannia Restaurant (in reality the tourist class dining room).
Charlie Parker, Brad Marshall
Brad Marshall was born in 1955 in New York City. He studied at the San Francisco Academy of Art, City College of Los Angeles, and obtained a masters degree from the University of Florida, Gainesville, with a degree in Psychology, Suma Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa. If you're impressed with credentials, Brad has a wall full. Apart from framed diplomas, his diverse studies have come to make him an outstanding instructor, able to skillfully impart his art to others. Though he often works from photos, in his landscapes, Brad tries to paint more than just a realistic image of a scene. He is little interested in simply re-creating a photo on canvas. He paints the sublime places he has seen, trying to capture some of the feeling of those places in his paintings. Rather than painting from a single photo, he works from studies and sketches as well as many photos that he's taken at various picturesque sites, using various elements from them along with his personal observations to form a more captivating image. His effort is to create a composition that gives the viewers a sense of place.

The week of watercolor classes ended with an art exhibit
for the benefit of other Queen Mary 2 passengers.
20th-Century art brought us the concept that a painting was not a representation of something, but the thing itself. Once the camera had freed artists from the onus of Realism, this led to the exploration of more abstract and non-representational work. There is, of course a certain genius in Modern Art painting. Yet it's difficult to simply discard more than a thousand years of representational work and disregarding is nascent importance in the history and culture of the many developing peoples and nations of that broad time span. A realistic painting, brings the viewer a frozen moment of an object, scene, or a person, engaging them, so that they bring themselves into the work. Modern Art has not lessened this goal as something to be desired and striven for.

T-Rex, Brad Marshall
Copyright, Jim Lane
A week of Jim Lane watercolors,


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