Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gary Wick

Gary Wick tells me that he had two ambitions he wanted to accomplish in his life. He wanted to be accepted into the Old Town Art Fair...he was accepted in 2001. And he wanted to be published. The April 2009 issue of AMERICAN ARTIST had a six page spread on him, plus six images of his paintings and a 7 step demonstration of his painting Deep Woods. Wow! He says that if he dies now, it's okay with him because he has met most of his goals...however he has every intention of staying alive. His collectors and his students are grateful.

In the AMERICAN ARTIST article he describes what materials he uses, how he uses them and why, going step by step with a demonstration of the process...that's generous and pretty impressive. I think this why Gary is considered such a fine teacher. He shares all his techniques (or secrets), techniques that he has spent years developing. But he wants his students to be the best they can be, not copiers of his style. Intensely proud of his pupils, he showed me some of their work, explaining how far they had come and how well they were doing and developing their own style.

So how did he get there? Primarily self taught, Gary has known he was basically an artist since at least fourth grade when he replicated a covered wagon scene from a book the teacher showed him. Crayons and pencils were his favorite toys. He had no art in high school because his interest was in architecture, so he took technical drawing classes instead. Then, he attended the University of Illinois at Navy Pier for a short while, worked as an architectural draftsman from 1960-66, spent fourteen and a half months in Vietnam, and then returned to being a draftsman... until 1996 when he decided that despite his young age, it was time to retire.

In 1970, in his spare time, he had taken evening clases at the Art Institute for a year or so and studied oil painting portraiture with Mohamed Drisi. He's an accomplished award winning photographer and seriously considered that as his major field. Then, he picked up some old pastels and that was that. Gary started teaching at our League in 1998. He started doing art shows in 1999. He had a one person show at the Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in 2000. He belongs to various local art leagues and does the fine art outdoor shows in the area. He also exhibits in Wisconsin and Michigan art galleries.

He is a firm believer in making mistakes because it's the best way to learn how to use materials you are working with. You have to learn the surfaces to use, what pastels work best and when. He tells me that if you have never made a mistake, you haven't begun to learn. He feels that for him to be a successful teacher, he has to make his students pull themselves out of his influence into their own style, a difficult thing to accomplish.

Gary has been with us for over ten years, he has repeat students who know that they can continue to learn under him. He often says "You learn from me and I learn from you." It's a two way street. He's an asset to our teaching staff. His paintings are on our walls, his influence is felt.


  1. Gary is a very accomplished artist who works on his craft constantly. His teaching skills keep improving as well. If anyone wants to advance his or her pastel painting, Gary's class is where to do it.

  2. It was a pleasure to be introduced at the teacher's meeting, and quite interesting to know a little more about his influences.