When asked why painting the human figure was so important painter Scott
Burdick was matter-of-fact. “Because we are human,” he said. “If an
alien species were to come down today, they wouldn’t respond to the
human form or face like we do. Just like pictures of lobsters don’t
remind us of our parents or children. We are human, and we are most
tied up in other people and our relationships to each other.”
Artists aren’t superheroes. No capes, no spandex onesies, and no
butlers named Alfred. Artists don’t necessarily lead extraordinary
lives in which they paint or draw between bouts of saving the world.
Artists are like you and me. They are you and me, actually. We
all go about our day-to-day lives and amidst the daily to-dos and
stressors we try to recognize inspiration when it hits, and then we try
to find enough time to actually do something about it.
When I was a kid, my mom always cut coupons on Sunday morning. I’d sit
beside her and do the same, but I’d flip through magazines and
newspapers and cut out pictures I liked or lettering that I thought was
neat, and I never gave up my artsy coupon clipping habit because it’s a
great way to pull inspirational images into my orbit.
During this time of the year, as acts of generosity and appreciation
abound, I’m drawn to the works of the painters and draftsmen of the
Ashcan School, which thrived during the early 20th century. This group
of artists—among them Robert Henri, Everett Shinn, John French Sloan,
and William Glackens—were united by a commitment to drawing and
painting the people and places of their daily lives. Sometimes this
meant focusing on the underbelly of society, but many of the works were
really just about depicting reality. Their artwork shone a light on the
plight of the people who were part of the community in which these
No apologies from me for that attempt at sensationalism (I would have
written tabloid headlines in another life). The truth is I was lucky
enough to sit down and chat with artist and instructor C.W. Mundy, who
is generous with both his time and his talents. We chatted about his upbringing, strategies for being a successful artist, and more.