H.W. Matalene Paintings
   

I can't remember when I started drawing. I was an only child with time to kill in a New York apartment, and my father and his father made artful things with their hands, from needlepoint to fine watchcases, though not paintings. I have vivid memories of toddling across Central Park, holding my father's hand, to be amazed by the paintings in the Metropolitan. We summered in Greenport, Long Island, and when I got to be about ten, I was given lessons in drawing and oil painting from Whitney Hubbard, a grand old marine impressionist born in 1875 and trained in the old Art Students' League. Every Saturday, Mr. Hubbard took a few students down to the docks to see how much of Greenport's picturesque fishing fleet we could get down on paper or canvas before lunch. He taught us to see values, proportions and perspective, and when I was fourteen and about to go off to boarding school, he was trying to get me over my fear of ruining the tidy pencil sketches with which I began my paintings by overlaying them with the paint itself. That was the last summer he taught, and it proved to be the end (until I retired to Charleston in 2002) not only of my instruction in painting, but of my painting itself. The art program in boarding school was simply superb, but it was run by an alumnus of Hans Hoffmann's Eighth Street School, and its aim was to get middle-class kids over their families' Philistine incomprehension of abstraction and into the studio to make abstract paintings. Its biggest success was my friend Frank Stella, but I wanted to be John Singer Sargent, and the school simply had no interest in that agenda. I learned to quit thinking of myself as an artist and simply stopped drawing and painting.

Still, I could never get away from the arts. And the older I get the more grateful I am for all that the great artists have given us. I ended up getting a doctorate in eighteenth-century British and Comparative Literature, marrying a classmate, teaching English from 1969 until 2001 at the University of South Carolina, and singing tenor for twenty years in the Columbia Choral Society. Carolyn and I retired to Charleston because the beauty of its Low Country setting and historic district has inspired a vibrant life for all the arts throughout the city. The world comes to Charleston every spring for the Spoleto Festival, and during the rest of the year, local institutions of exceptional quality for such a small city keep things going. There is plenty to paint in and around Charleston, and Carolyn and I are inveterate travelers to other beautiful places around the world. I decided in 2002 to see whether or not I could pick up painting, with the help of instruction from the Gibbes Museum and the College of Charleston, where I had left it off fifty years before. I have been flattered that friends, teachers, occasional purchasers, and bidders in fund-raising auctions seem to like my images of people, buildings, landscapes and boats, some of which have appeared in juried exhibitions. These shows include "Young Contemporaries" at the College in 2006 and "Vanishing Landscapes" at the 2008 Piccolo Spoleto Festival. More recently, 'Yorkshire Dales: West of Richmond' took Honorable Mention at the 2010 Piccolo Spoleto show, and 'Marshall: A Green Thought in a Green Shade' was chosen for the 2011 show.

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