Our March 23, 2018 Dan’s Papers cover artist Maureen Tanzer completed a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in nursing and never took one art class. “It wasn’t until years later when I was attending an interior design class that I realized I could sketch,” she says.
From there, Tanzer took oil painting lessons from Milton Patterson. “[He] taught me how to lay out the paints, load the brush, apply paint to the canvas and to mix colors as I learned to paint landscapes.”
Even today, her paintings are hard to come by. “They’re in my home, the homes of my children and in my husband’s office for his patients to enjoy. I’m very attached to them.” So, please, enjoy this opportunity.
What was the inspiration for this piece?
The clouds behind the lighthouse inspired this particular painting. Montauk is special to our family. The lighthouse to us is the iconic symbol of Montauk. We never go there without driving past it or stopping there. It means surfing and surfing competitions with our son, sunsets, Deep Hollow Ranch horseback rides, kayaking on Lake Montauk, watching fishermen catch stripers and surfers catching big waves, shopping for treasures, and many family dinners at Gosman’s Topside.
Do you have any special memories of the Montauk parade you you’d like to share?
I most enjoy the marching pipes and drums. The bagpipes move me in a way that I think must be genetic. I’ll watch the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade while I make my Irish soda bread. The most exciting St Patrick’s Day Parade for me was the Pearl River parade when our whole family marched with our daughter’s Irish step dancing school.
How do you think that not being a traditionally trained artist has impacted your art?
That’s a difficult question to answer since I don’t know what I missed by not having a traditional art education. I love painting in oils and never had to explore different media; I was never forced to paint in a very abstract way, which I don’t think I would like; I didn’t have to take classes that were required that didn’t interest me. I was able to take lessons from art teachers who I knew were teaching me what I needed to know. If I encountered a teacher who wasn’t helping me learn, I could stop taking their lessons.
My first art teacher told me, “you can try to change your style of painting, but you can’t.” I guess not having a traditional art education enabled me to zero in on what I needed to learn and get right to it. I don’t think I missed out. I’m just grateful that I took that sketching class in interior design school when I was older and realized I could sketch. Otherwise I never would have painted.
If you have coffee with any artist from history, who would it be and what would you discuss?
I would invite Wolfe Kahn (a contemporary abstract landscape artist) to coffee and would ask him how he chooses the subjects of his paintings, why he paints barns so often, why he never puts people in his paintings, how he chooses the beautiful vivid colors he paints with and ask him if he would teach me to see landscapes the way he does and help me learn how to be the colorist that he is. I guess I just answered the question about what I missed by not having a traditional art education, but Wolf Kahn probably would not have been a teacher at the school I might have attended.
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