Saturday, February 4, 2012

Russell Keeter, My Most ValuableTeacher

PAGES FROM MY SKETCH BOOK, FROM RUSSELL KEETER'S ANATOMY CLASSES
The only artworks I kept from my student days.







Anatomy and life drawing went hand in hand in Russell Keeter's classroom at the College of Creative Studies in Detroit. I was fortunate to have been in his life drawing and anatomy classes. He taught life drawing from the skeleton to the fully clothed. He taught the two most important classes in the Fine Art curriculum as they should be taught: together. Russell passed away in 1991 and Wikipedia didn't have a word to say about this remarkable educator. From what I found on Google, only the college knew his contributions--and me and hundreds of others.

A smile comes to my face when I remember Russell. Russell liked the ladies and the ladies liked him for his Bohemian rough good looks, well filled out jeans AND most of all, his dedication, his passion, his remarkable paintings with articulately executed figures. He was a fun guy at coffee breaks, lots of laughs, but a strict task master in the classroom.

As I'm doing this drawing of the infant with barely visible features, I've been thinking about him--glad I had him as an instructor--glad he was demanding--sorry his work didn't get the recognition it deserved. The following are two of his paintings with no ambiguous slashes or dashes. He knew his stuff. And one of the things he knew was: life drawing was meaningless without a thorough understanding of anatomy.


11 comments:

  1. LW...what a good post! You are an excellent writer! This post about your wonderful teacher made me think about one of my own teachers (like yours) who "had the chops" to be a world known artist and yet he taught us instead. Unsung heros! I also so agree with you about drawing and anatomy. I can't understand artists who don't want to draw! I'm looking forward to seeing your commission piece finished. It's looking great

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  2. I'm moving slow on that piece Celeste. I think I'm nervous about painting it. I can draw, but a painter I'm really not; you are. These teachers are unsung heroes indeed. Knowing what Russell could do, I was shocked that he had only a local reputation and the website the school initiated only had two comments on it since somewhere around his death in 1991 I would guess. One of the comments was: a drawing of his was sold on EBay in September 2010. I'd love to know for how much. I left the third comment--many words of praise.

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  3. Linda I LOVED this post!!!
    Absolutely love your drawings. It also brought back memories from art school... ah those were the days.

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  4. They really were Agnes. Being surrounded by talented people all passionate about the same thing was priceless, the very best time. Celeste Bergin is the only one I've run into online who still has those wonderful relationships. All the gals I know play bridge, mahjong or canasta and belong to book clubs. The guys go golfing, play tennis, or go to political forums. They go to current shows at the museum, but stay for as long as it takes to see the show; they don't just like to wander through the galleries and soak in the awesomeness.

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  5. Very interesting - I am jealous. You can write the Wikipedia article someday. And it seems he has a blog dedicated to him: http://russellkeeter.blogspot.com

    Great student drawings - I'd keep them too. :)

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  6. Your drawings/sketches are remarkable, really show the skill without too much fussing. How lucky to have had a teacher like Russell !

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  7. Yes, I was Jane--and to think at first I didn't like him. My first impression of him was that he was a flirt--and a bit cocky. Then, as that first class progressed, I saw he had plenty to be cocky about--his flirtatious manner was okay with me.

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  8. That's true, Dan. I never thought of that. Now I'm wondering why one of his colleagues at the college hasn't written a Wikipedia article? I know he was in the Navy. I know where he lived. That's it. I do know he's listed in Who Was Who in American Art 1565 - 1975, by Peter H. Falk and a few others--I might have to go to the library. You always get me thinking. Thanks Dan.

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  9. That's a really nice tribute to your instructor. I like the hand sketch very much! I wish I could take a class like the ones you've had! Your work is great!

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  10. Thank you so much Katherine. And thank you for becoming a follower. I'll be dropping by your place soon. I was very fortunate, but years later, I still spend some time reviewing body parts when I'm involved in a figure painting. Anatomy is something you can't let go after the course ended.

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  11. Hi,

    I was a student in Keeter's class, the last class he taught in '91. I am trying to recollect his lessons as I hit the figure drawing fever again. Are there any notes he took/gave/lectures on figure drawing?

    I know about Eugene, anything else?

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