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Joseph B. O'Sickey



WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2006 I grow tired of thinking about what I can't have, like the kid outside the candy store window. In an attempt to get the Mel Stabin workshop out of mind, I am choosing to pay tribute to someone I really truly did "study under" — Joseph O'Sickey.

Joseph O'Sickey was an art professor at Kent State University in the 1970's and 80's. He was incredibly popular and influenced a great many students during my time there, including me. His painting style is a cross between Monet and VanGough. His canvases were quite large, and he painted with his whole body. So did we. We would mix a color and find its location everywhere on the canvas, leaving bits of color shapes everywhere they appeared in the scene. On and on, we would paint, until an image grew.


Ed Stitt's self portrait and my painting of Marci both reflect his style, although mine also has a George Danhires influence. Ed's has more raw O'Sickey energy and talent.


I just googled "joseph osickey" and found two paintings: "Figure at Window" sold at auction in 2001 for $2300. "Autumn Garden with Table and Wicker Chairs" sold at auction for $10,350. Click the links to see the paintings.


I wonder what he thinks about these sales? I know from the auction house that he was born in 1918, two years before my mother-in-law, who is now finishing her years in an apartment attached to our house. He is 87. I hope he is not fighting for his life or mind, and has many good years ahead. I hope he has the same spirit and determiniation. But, who knows?


The photo is from a 1981 Daily Kent Stater clipping I had pasted in a hand-made sketch book. On the opposite page is a hand written quote, which I still find tremendously instructive today:


"For a young person wishing to develop and to progress in art, I would suggest the following: 1.) Learn the profession as completely as you can, while you're in school. 2.) Becoming an artist takes many years of hard work beyond school. Become a student of art first. Remain a student. 3.) Art takes energy, stamina and good heath. Equip yourself mentally and physically. 4.) Aspire for quality. Don't think you already know what Art is. Travel, see, study the best in all the arts. 5.) Bring your work to a professional level of competency while you are in school ... one can no longer be a naive painter, only an ignorant one. 6.) Read insatiably in the arts. 7.) Motivate yourself— it's your life. 8.) Learn to work courageously. 9.) Work."


Indeed, I was privileged to study with this gentleman while he was at his best as a painter and college professor.

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